The West African Ebola outbreak no longer constitutes a major risk to international public health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Tuesday.
Ebola has killed an estimated 11,300 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since late 2013. It caused global alarm in mid-2014 as governments and aid agencies rushed to help contain the epidemic.
#Ebola in West Africa is no longer a Public Health Emergency of Intl Concern, though high vigilance & response capacity must be maintained— WHO (@WHO) March 29, 2016
All original chains of Ebola transmission have now ended, although new clusters of infections continue to occur due to reintroductions of the virus, the WHO said in a statement.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told a news briefing in Geneva: “I have accepted the Committee’s advice: the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.
“However, a high level of vigilance, and response capacity, must be maintained, to ensure the ability of the countries to prevent the Ebola infections, and to rapidly detect, and respond to flare-ups in future”
Sierra Leone and Liberia have not had any new Ebola cases for months.
But a new chain in Guinea has infected eight people, including seven who have died.
“What’s happening right now in Guinea is a new cluster, a little outbreak, related to a re-introduction from the survivor population, so this in some way distinct and is one of the ongoing risks that have to be managed, as the outbreak is brought to its complete conclusion,” said WHO expert Dr. Bruce Aylward.