Liberia Free of Ebola, Says WHO
African country has gone 42 days since burial of its last victim without a new case
By Andrew Morse in the Wall Street Journal
ZURICH—The World Health Organization [WHO] has declared Liberia free of Ebola, marking the end of a national outbreak that at its peak infected as many as 400 new victims a week.
In a statement on Saturday, the United Nations health agency said that Liberia had gone 42 days—twice Ebola’s maximum incubation period—since the burial of its last confirmed patient without discovering a new case.
Liberia is one of three West African countries at the center of an epidemic that the WHO called “the largest, longest and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976.” Guinea and Sierra Leone have also been hard hit by the disease.
More than 11,000 people have died of confirmed, suspected or probable cases of Ebola in the three countries, according to WHO statistics. The disease continues to spread in Guinea and Sierra Leone, although at a slower pace than at the peak of the outbreak.
At its height, the number of Ebola patients doubled every month, taxing overcrowded clinics and leaving many victims of the disease without appropriate medical care. More than 26,500 people in the three countries were infected by the virus, which causes a high fever, and, in terminal cases, internal bleeding and organ failure.
In Liberia, transmission of the Ebola virus was most intense in the capital, Monrovia, but had been reported in each of the country’s 15 counties, the WHO said. At one point, the country had “virtually no treatment beds” available for Ebola patients, according to the agency.
Because the Ebola outbreak continues in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, the WHO cautioned that infected people might cross into Liberia because of the region’s porous international borders.