The first time Liberia was declared free of Ebola in May 2015, people celebrated in the streets. Now, all of West Africa is free of Ebola, but the virus may come back yet again, WHO warns.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared Liberia free of Ebola, marking the end of the outbreak in West Africa. “Today is a good day,” Rick Brennan, director of emergency risk management and humanitarian action at WHO, said at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland. But he also urged continued vigilance, warning that there was a significant risk of flare-ups. “While this is an important milestone and an important step forward, we have to say that the job is still not done. That’s because there is still ongoing risk of re-emergence of the disease because of persistence of the virus in a proportion of survivors,” Brennan said.The announcement came 42 days after the last confirmed Ebola patient in Liberia twice tested negative for the virus. It is the first time that all known chains of transmission in the three Ebola-ravaged countries have been stopped. Sierra Leone was declared free of Ebola on 7 November 2015, and Guinea followed at the end of December 2015. All three countries are now in a 90-day period of heightened surveillance.
The outbreak in West Africa was by far the largest Ebola on record and the only one to have become a full-fledged epidemic. More than 28,500 people were sickened by the virus, and 11,315 died since the outbreak began in a remote Guinean village in December 2013. At the height of the epidemic there were hundreds of infections every day, and patients died in front of overfilled treatment centers that had shut their doors. “Detecting and breaking every chain of transmission has been a monumental achievement,” Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, said in a press statement.
How to Survive the Ebola epidemic Outbreak that has affected West Africa, USA and part of Europe in 2014. Learn Ebola symptoms, Treatment and Prevention tips.