“All known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa”, this was the declaration of the The World Health Organisation on Thursday as it announced the end to the latest flare-up of the Ebola virus in Liberia.
The news marked a potential turning point in the fight against a disease that began in the forests of eastern Guinea in December 2013, spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and at its height in October 2014 sparked global fear about the disease.
In a cautionary note, the WHO said was too soon to declare an end to the epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people out of 28,600 cases.
The declaration on Thursday marked 42 days since Liberia’s last Ebola patient tested negative.
The country had previously declared itself virus-free in May and September of 2015 but each time a fresh cluster of cases appeared.
“We are now at a critical period in the Ebola epidemic as we move from managing cases and patients to managing the residual risk of new infections,” says Bruce Aylward, WHO’s Special Representative for the Ebola Response.
He further cautioned that there could be cases of more flareups .