Liberia has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO), finally putting an end to the world’s worst and fatal outbreak of the disease.
This declaration was made after 42 days without a new case in Liberia which means the end of the active transmission.
Liberia joins Guinea and Sierra Leone, which earned the status last year.
A country is considered free of human-to-human transmission once two consecutive 21-day incubation periods (42 days) have passed since the last known case tested negative for a second time.
World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan said for now, the end of the outbreak was a “monumental achievement”.
WHO said it expected “more flare-ups”, and the risk of additional small outbreaks in the three West African states remained “high”.
“Evidence shows that the virus disappears relatively quickly from survivors, but can remain in the semen of a small number of male survivors for as long as one year, and in rare instances, be transmitted to intimate partners,” WHO added.
“This date marks the first time since the start of the epidemic two years ago that all three of the hardest-hit countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have reported zero cases for at least 42 days,” Dr Chan said in a statement.
However, the end of “active transmission” of Ebola has been declared twice before in the country only for the disease to resurface. 3rd September 2015, WHO declared Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission in the human population. This is why the free declaration will be marked with caution, says BBC Africa’s health correspondent Anne Soy.
Dr Margaret Chan described the next three months as “the most critical” for the three West African nations which accounted for a great percentage of the deaths from the outbreak (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone).
“By the end of this year, we expect that all survivors will have cleared the virus from their bodies,” she said.
WHO warned that West Africans may see a sudden outburst of the virus in the future. It has killed more than 11,000 people since December 2013.
Figures up to 6 January 2016 – 11,315 Deaths
Liberia – 4,809
Sierra Leone – 3,955
Guinea – 2,536
Nigeria – 8 Nigeria
Mali – 6
U.S – 1