On January 18, the World Health Organization and the Government of Mali officially announced the end of the Ebola outbreak in the country after 42 days past without any new cases (WHO).
Also, although there has been no official announcement from the WHO, the CDC has moved the United States to its list of “previously” affected countries, noting that the United States is Ebola free (CDC). All Ebola case contacts had successfully completed 21-day follow-ups by December 11, 2014, more than one month ago.
As the infection rate continues to drop in all of the three remaining affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – UN officials are no longer describing the outbreak as a single outbreak, but rather a collection of “micro-outbreaks” where transmission is still liable to occur, particularly in isolated, rural areas (Yahoo News).
Schools in Guinea reopened on Monday (News 24), and just as Liberia has announced plans to reopen schools, Sierra Leone is now preparing to reopen schools in March (Reuters). The country is also lifting the movement restrictions that had effectively isolated six of 14 districts due to a “steady downward trend” in new cases, and restrictions on Saturday trading hours will also be reduced (News 24).
Travel in Liberia
Last summer the U.S. Department of State ordered family members of U.S. Embassy staff in Monrovia to depart the country. In recognition of Liberia’s improved infection control, the Department of State lifted the ordered departure on January 21 (OSAC).
Cases, Deaths and Locations
As of January 22 the totals, including cases in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom stand at 21,794 with 8,683 deaths (CDC). This represents a reported increase of 430 cases since last week, whereas last week’s update included 617 new cases.
While caution is necessary and complacency is unacceptable, it appears West Africa is moving beyond the worst Ebola outbreak in history. The next phases are remaining vigilant while snuffing out the remaining “micro-outbreaks,” rebuilding to prepare for future outbreaks, and recovering from Ebola’s human and economic consequences. Help West Africans win the fight against Ebola by giving now.