Ebola: West Africa marks the end of epidemic

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Liberia said Thursday it was free of Ebola, meaning there are now no known cases of the deadly tropical virus left in west Africa following an outbreak that began in neighbouring Guinea in December 2013.

Liberia was the country worst hit with more than 4,800 Liberians killed by the virus, and was awaiting the all-clear following the discharge of its last known patients in May.

“Liberia is again free of Ebola. We have just ended the incubation period following the last case,” Sorbor George, chief of communication at the ministry, told AFP.

The west African nation has now passed the World Health Organization (WHO) threshold of 42 days — twice the incubation period for the virus — since the last known patient tested negative for the second time.

“WHO commends Liberia’s government and people on their effective response to this recent re-emergence of Ebola,” said WHO Representative in Liberia Alex Gasasira in a statement.

“WHO will continue to support Liberia in its effort to prevent, detect and respond to suspected cases,” Gasasira added.

The country now enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance for any new cases.

At its peak in 2014, Ebola sparked anxiety about a possible global pandemic and led some governments to threaten or unilaterally enforce travel bans to and from the worst-affected countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The World Health Organization declared an end to Ebola cases in Guinea on June 1 and Sierra Leone on March 17.

However, previous declarations announcing the end of Ebola flare-ups in West Africa have been followed by new cases — the virus has re-emerged three times in Liberia.

Health authorities were monitoring for new cases after a woman died of Ebola in the capital of Monrovia on March 31 after arriving from Guinea.

Two of her three children, aged five and two, subsequently tested positive for the virus.

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Source:: PM Newspaper