Liberia Celebrates End of EbolaMay 12, 2015 in Liberia
On Monday, thousands of Liberians gathered to celebrate the end of Ebola after the country was declared free of the deadly disease that has killed more than 4,700 people. Several dignitaries participated in the celebration, including the President of Togo, along with guests from the African Union, Ghana and Nigeria. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf closed the celebrations by recommitting herself to helping the governments and people of neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone to overcome the disease.
In a statement released Saturday 9 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that 42 days had passed since the last person confirmed with the virus in Liberia was buried. On Monday, the Liberian government declared a public holiday in order to allow workers and students to take part in a festival in the capital city, Monrovia. The ceremony however began on a sombre note, with testimonials from health workers and other staff in the country’s Ebola treatment units (ETU’s) as well as survivors and body disposal team members.
The WHO has hailed the eradication of the deadly disease in Liberia as an enormous development in the crisis, which has affected the West African region for over a year. However the United Nations agency has warned that because outbreaks are continuing in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, the risk remains high that infected people could re-enter the country. More than 4,700 people died during the Ebola crisis in Liberia, which remains the hardest-hit country by the outbreak. Neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to report new cases on a weekly basis. While the number of new cases being reported has significantly declined in recent months, officials in both countries have noted that they have had difficulty in tracing new cases.
Latest figures released by the WHO indicate that 26,720 cases have been reported and 11,079 people have died from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone and the United States, however officials have warned that the full scale of the Ebola outbreak may have been underreported. The latest outbreak, which was officially confirmed in March 2014, has killed five times more people than all the other known outbreaks combined.