Liberia Reports No New Ebola Cases for More Than Two WeeksMarch 12, 2015 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone
World Health Organization (WHO) officials disclosed Wednesday that Liberia has not registered any new Ebola cases since 19 February, adding that there have also been some improving signs in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone.
According to latest figures released by the WHO, since the outbreak began in December 2013, 24,282 people in nine countries have been infected with the virus and 9,976 of them have died. All but fifteen of those deaths occurred in the three West African countries. In the week leading up to 8 March, a total of 116 new confirmed cases of Ebola were reported, compared with 132 that were registered in the previous week.
The tide in Liberia, which six months ago was reporting more than 300 new cases per week, appears to have turned. According to Bruce Aylward, who heads the WHO’s Ebola response, Liberia “has now gone well over two weeks without a new reported case.” Last week, the West African nation released its last confirmed Ebola patient, who had tested negative for the deadly virus for the second time on 3 March. On 4 March, Liberia effectively began its 42-day, or two incubation-period, countdown towards being considered Ebola-free. Liberia has been one of the hardest hit countries in the Ebola epidemic and still counts the most deaths in the outbreak, at 4,162.
Guinea and Sierra Leone
While neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to report new cases, Aylward has highlighted some positive signs.
In the week leading up to 8 March, Guinea reported 58 new confirmed cases, compared with 51 cases that were reported in the previous week. Cases were clustered in an area in and around the capital city Conakry (13 cases) as well as in the nearby prefectures of Boffa (2 cases), Coyah (8 cases), Dubreka (5 cases); Forecariah (28 cases) and Kindia (2 cases). In the forest region of Guinea, where the deadly outbreak first began 15 months ago, no new cases have been reported in the last ten days.
While in Sierra Leone, which currently counts the most cases of the virus at 11,619, only 58 new confirmed cases were reported over the last week – the lowest number to be reported since June 2014. Eighty-one cases were reported in the previous week. Cases were reported in 5 northern and western districts located around the capital Freetown, which reported 27 new confirmed cases. The neighbouring districts of Bombali (6 cases), Kambia (7 cases), Port Loko (12 cases) and Western Rural (6 cases). With the exception of 4 districts in the southern region of the country, all districts in Sierra Leone have reported a confirmed case of Ebola over the past 21 days.
Officials at the WHO have warned that while they are seeing improvements in Guinea and Sierra Leone, if international attention, determination and funding to end the outbreak declines, “there is a huge risk of failing to do so.” Furthermore, continued resistance within some communities in Sierra Leone and Guinea is also threatening progress. WHO officials have noted that in both countries, some Ebola patients are still not being isolated and treated while some unsafe burials are still going on.