The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday declared the end of the most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia, west Africa and consequently, the rest of the world.
The UN body says “all known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa”, adding that the job is not over, more flare-ups are expected and that strong surveillance and response systems will be critical in the months to come.
Liberia was first declared free of Ebola transmission in May 2015, but the virus was re-introduced twice since then, with the latest flare-up in November.
Today’s announcement comes 42 days (two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus) after the last confirmed patient in Liberia tested negative for the disease 2 times.
“WHO commends Liberia’s government and people on their effective response to this recent re-emergence of Ebola,” Alex Gasasira, WHO representative in Liberia, said.
“The rapid cessation of the flare-up is a concrete demonstration of the government’s strengthened capacity to manage disease outbreaks. WHO will continue to support Liberia in its effort to prevent, detect and respond to suspected cases.”
This date marks the first time since the start of the epidemic 2 years ago that all 3 of the hardest-hit countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—have reported 0 cases for at least 42 days. Sierra Leone was declared free of Ebola transmission on 7 November 2015 and Guinea on 29 December.
Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, said: “Detecting and breaking every chain of transmission has been a monumental achievement”.
“So much was needed and so much was accomplished by national authorities, heroic health workers, civil society, local and international organizations and generous partners. But our work is not done and vigilance is necessary to prevent new outbreaks.”
She urged that Vigilance needs to be maintained to curtail further outbreak.
The Ebola epidemic claimed the lives of more than 11,300 people and infected over 28,500.
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