The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Saturday that Liberia is now officially free of the deadly Ebola virus, closing the case on an epidemic that killed thousands in the west African nation.
“The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over,” said WHO Liberia representative Dr. Alex Gasasira from Monrovia.
Epidemiologist Luke Bawo showed reporters a map that displayed how two 21-day incubation periods have now passed since the last person died of Ebola in the country. This means, according to WHO standards, that the “criteria for concluding that human-to-human transmission of the virus has ended,” The New York Times reports.
WHO called the milestone 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.”
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the citizens she serves, along with the countries that provided assistance and “whose hearts were with us.”
This Ebola outbreak is a scar on the conscience of the world. For some the pain and grief will take a generation to heal. Therefore, let today’s announcement be a call to arms that we will build a better world for those Ebola could not reach. … It is the least the memories of our dearly departed deserve.
“Let us celebrate, but stay mindful and vigilant,” added the Liberian president.
Dr. Gasasira told The New York Times, “The health workers are dancing and clapping and singing ‘no more Ebola.’”
According to WHO statistics, Liberia accumulated 3,000 confirmed Ebola cases, as well as another 7,400 suspected or probable cases. Almost 5,000 people died as a result of acquiring the deadly virus, including 189 aid workers.
“What we went through here was terrifying,” said a Liberian national whose village was ravished by Ebola. “Nobody wants to pass on our road or have anything to do with us, everybody was afraid of the community. I thank God that Liberia is free from Ebola.”