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Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission

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11 May 2015 – On May 9th, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia free of Ebola virus transmission.

A previously affected country is considered free of Ebola transmission if it records no further cases over a 42-day period, twice the maximum incubation period of the virus.

Liberia’s last case was a woman in the greater Monrovia area who developed symptoms on 20 March and died on 27 March.

Health officials have maintained a high level of vigilance for new cases. During April, the country’s 5 dedicated Ebola laboratories tested around 300 samples every week. All test results were negative.

Monumental achievement for Liberia

The WHO reports that this development is a monumental achievement for a country that reported the highest number of deaths in the largest, longest, and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976.

At the peak of transmission, which occurred during August and September 2014, the country was reporting from 300 to 400 new cases every week. At one point, virtually no treatment beds for Ebola patients were available anywhere in the country.

Altogether, 10,564 people were infected by the Ebola virus in Liberia and 4,716 people lost their lives.

Factors that contributed to the success of Liberia’s Ebola response included: the Liberian government response spearheaded by President Sirleaf, recognition by health officials and their partners of the importance of community engagement, generous support from the international community and strong national and international response coordination.

Warning against complacency as cases remain in neighbouring countries

UNICEF, whilst welcoming the announcement and commending the critical role played by communities in beating back the epidemic, warned that the threat posed to the region by the deadly virus will not disappear until there is no longer active transmission in affected neighbouring countries.

“Having achieved zero cases is the first step, now the challenge is to remain at zero. The threat won’t be over until there are no more cases in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s Representative in Liberia.

More information

For more information read WHO’s response plan, which aims to identify all remaining cases in West Africa by June 2015, or discover the dedicated page on Ebola.

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