The World Health Organization declared Liberia free of Ebola on Saturday, making it the first of the three hardest-hit West African countries to bring a formal end to the epidemic. According to the WHO, since the outbreak was declared in March 2014, there were more than 10,000 confirmed Ebola cases in Liberia, with more than 4,500 deaths estimated -- including hundreds of health care workers.
Saturday's news came after Liberia had gone 42 days without any new cases. Following the WHO's announcement, the United States congratulated the people of Liberia on reaching this important marker, and once again pledged the United States' commitment to ending the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Acting State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said, "This achievement is a tribute to the Government of Liberia’s rapid and sustained response in combating and containing the disease, in collaboration with the international community."
Acting Spokesperson Harf continued, "The United States will remain fully engaged in a partnership with West Africa to build the capacity within the region to prevent, detect, and respond to future outbreaks before they become epidemics. As Liberia’s unwavering partner, we remain committed to supporting Liberia’s development and post-Ebola recovery plans."
As Liberia celebrates this monumental achievement, there is still work to be done at Liberia’s borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone. The United States, joins the international community, in urging continued vigilance, as the threat of a renewed Ebola outbreak will remain in the region until all the affected countries reach the equivalent milestone.
The White House, in a press statement said, " While this milestone is important, the world must not forget that the Ebola outbreak still persists in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea. We must not let down our guard until the entire region reaches and stays at zero Ebola cases. And we must all work together to strengthen capacity around the world to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to outbreaks before they become epidemics."
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