Liberia Declared Free of Ebola Spread for the Second TimeSeptember 4, 2015 in Ebola, Liberia
On Thursday 4 September, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Liberia has once again been declared free of the deadly Ebola virus, a move which prompted celebrations in the capital Monrovia.
In a statement released Thursday, the UN health agency indicated “WHO declares Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission in the human population,” adding that it hailed the country’s “successful response” to the recent re-emergence of Ebola. The statement noted that “Liberia’s ability to effectively respond to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease is due to intensified vigilance and rapid response by the government and multiple partners.” While the West African country, where at the height of the epidemic last year thousands died, had already been declared Ebola-free in May, six weeks later the country saw a resurgence of the deadly virus. Six people were infected, including two who died. While many Liberian’s in the capital city welcomed the news, most are taking it with caution, noting that like the last declaration, there may be further smaller outbreaks that continue over the coming weeks and months.
Liberia was long the hardest hit in the West African Ebola outbreak, which began in December 2013 and which infected more than 28,000 people, claiming the lives of more than 11,000 in Liberia as well as in Guinea and Sierra Leone. More than 10,500 of those infections and 4,800 of the deaths occurred in Liberia.
A country is considered free of human-to-human transmission once two 21-day incubation periods have passed since the last known case tested negative for a second time. Experts however have warned that even after 42 days, the danger is not over, particularly with the fact that small numbers of cases continue to surface in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone. Liberia’s Ebola management department, Francis Karteh, has warned that while the Ebola-free announcement was a cause for celebration, complacency could not be allowed as the fight against the virus is “not yet over,” adding, “as long as there is one person with Ebola in our region, Ebola is still a threat.” Karteh further added that “the Ministry of Health and its partners will continue monitoring Liberia’s borders and rebuilding the healthcare system to assure that Liberians remain safe.”