Even though the UN predicts the light at the end of the tunnel for Liberia and Sierra Leone is very close, the Ebola outbreak is still very unpredictable in Guinea, and hard work for recovery is expected for all three nations.
David Nabarro, the UN special emissary on Ebola, said the progress was encouraging, but the verdict of victory over the epidemic must wait a while longer. During this past year, West Africa has suffered a great deal, with the dangerous virus spreading and killing more than 10,000 people.
In an interview for the Financial Times, he contradicted the public perception that says “the worst has passed, it must be easier now” – instead, the period between now and stopping the epidemic completely is the most difficult. The fewer people get infected, the more complicated it gets to identify them.
The last known infected patient from Liberia died on March 27, and no new cases have been reported since. However, the World Health Organization states that 42 days before a country is considered Ebola-free and the population is counting down unanimously until the nightmare is officially over.
Liberia is, nevertheless, celebrating the remarkable turnround, because not long ago, in September 2014, the Liberian government signaled that the “national existence” was being threatened by the Ebola spread rate. As many as 400 new cases were reported each week, starting from Monrovia, the capital, and spreading throughout the country.
According to Dr. Nabarro, it was imperious that the population changed its behavior, if they wanted to stop the disease. Improving basic hygiene and being more careful during the handling of infected bodies finally paid off.
The peak of Ebola in Sierra Leone happened later in the year – Freetown, the capital, was then infected to the brim, but they are, too, gaining the upper hand over the virus. Since March, there have been considerably less new cases, reaching just 25 people in the week to March 29. Considering that in November the report showed more than 500 infected cases, Sierra Leone is definitely on the right track to an Ebola-free country.
With Liberia and Sierra Leone steadily controlling the epidemic, there are only a few remaining Ebola hotspots, most of which are concentrated in the west coast of Guinea. In spite of the fact that Guinea was the first to get hit – and get hit hard – by the outbreak, it had fewer cases than both its neighbors – 3,500, whereas Liberia reported 9,700 and Sierra Leone 12,000.
However, the epidemic still slowly burns across the country, and the government is having a tougher time extinguishing it; so far, no clear downward trajectory could be pinpointed.
Image Source: NBC News