Liberia is free of Ebola after going 42 days without any new cases in the outbreak that has killed more than 4,700 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Saturday.
“The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over,” it said in a statement.
Liberia’s last case was a woman in the greater Monrovia area who developed symptoms on March 20 and died March 27, it said.
“The source of her infection remains under investigation,” it said, adding that the 332 people who may have been exposed to her identified and monitored but none developed symptoms.
Acknowledging the scale of the tragedy of Liberia’s outbreak, the WHO statement said: “It is a tribute to the government and people of Liberia that determination to defeat Ebola never wavered, courage never faltered.”
It added: “Doctors and nurses continued to treat patients, even when supplies of personal protective equipment and training in its safe use were inadequate. Altogether, 375 health workers were infected and 189 lost their lives.”
President Sirleaf told the press: “We will celebrate our communities which have taken responsibility and participated in fighting this unknown enemy and finally we’ve crossed the Rubicon. Liberia indeed is a happy nation.”
Although Liberia has now been declared Ebola-free, experts say the outbreak will have a long-term impact on Liberia’s fragile economy.
The current outbreak is the deadliest in history. It initially centred on Guinea’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in early 2014, and later spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.