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Updated On: Monday, 16 September 2019

Liberia is Now Ebola Free

Content by: South-South News

12 May 2015, New York, USA | Brendan Pastor – The west African country Liberia has declared itself Ebola free after the 42-day litmus of zero transmissions had passed earlier this week.

"We are thrilled by the significant progress made by having got to zero, maintaining zero and [going] 42 days without Ebola," Tolbert Nyenswa, the head of Liberia's Ebola response, said.

"It means that there is no transmission of the disease taking place in Liberia or in our community and that Liberia is Ebola free."

Health officials and policy-makers around the world welcomed the news, but cautioned that while neighboring countries continue to see cases of the disease, Liberia is not yet in the clear.

Nyenswa acknowledged this while celebrating the country's news.

"There is surety, based on the epidemiology, that there is no transmission taking place any more in the community. So, right now, Liberia is Ebola free. But if there is any Ebola to happen in this country, it will either be importation from Guinea or Sierra Leone."

In a ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia's President Ellen Sirleaf discussed continued support for health and sanitation efforts along border communities while offering aid to neighboring countries to reduce the risk of cross-border transmission.

"Now comes the challenge, the challenge of working with our two neighboring countries to make sure they reach the same level of progress that we have reached," Sirleaf said. "And already, we have commenced the process, taking a regional approach, reaching across borders to share information, to share experience, to share talent. We are going to intensify that effort because we know that until they are free, totally free, we are not free."

The three West Africa states Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia were the most affected by the Ebola outbreak that ravaged communities last summer. During the height of the disease, the three countries were seeing an average of 400 new cases each with. In total, over 11,000 people died from the disease, the majority of which happened in Liberia, with over 4,700 deaths. Sierra Leone and Guinea continue to see transmissions. However, due to recent scaling up of humanitarian and health operations, the disease's spread has been significantly reduced.

A country is considered to be Ebola-free after it passes 42 days of no transmissions – twice the incubation period for the disease. Liberia's last Ebola victim was buried on March 28.

Despite the high number of deaths, health and development experts maintain that the figures severely understate the consequences of the outbreak. Beyond loss of life, Ebola has almost completely wiped away social and educational services across the region. Schools in most places have been closed for nearly a year, while hospitals and clinics were pushed to their maximum capacity. The rise of other health concerns, such as Tuberculosis, Malaria and tropical diseases, grew considerably while supplies and logistics were focused on Ebola.

Perhaps the most socially damaging effect is the stigma being felt by Ebola survivors today.

"Ebola survivors are like all other citizens in this country," Tee Love Loresh, an Ebola survivor, pleads. "So stop stigmatizing us. Stop the discrimination. Accept us, we are your people. Embrace us. Love us, and show all due respect to us."

With Ebola in the rear-view – at least for now – Liberia now puts its political, financial and social capital towards rebuilding the country that came at times very close to systemic upheaval.

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