Dr. Alex Gasasira, World Health Organization (WHO) Resident Representative has declared Liberia free of the EVD transmission.
The Ebola-free declaration comes after two transmission cycles have expired since the last negative test of the last laboratory confirmed case.
The country is also going through a nine-day period of heightened surveillance, Dr. Gasasira said at a joint press conference with the government’s Incident Management System (IMS), held at the Ministry of Health in Monrovia last Thursday.
Transmission was declared over previously on May 9, when the nation and its numerous partners and sympathizers jubilantly celebrated after over three thousand people had succumbed to the deadly virus, but the celebration was short-lived as the virus re-emerged on June 29, when six additional cases were identified. There were two casualties and four survivors.
Certificating the country for the second time for being free of the virus transmission, Dr. Gassasira indicated that Liberia’s ability to effectively respond to the EVD outbreak is due to intensified vigilance and rapid response by the government and multiple partners.
The WHO boss lauded the government for the manner in which the situation was swiftly arrested. He indicated that when the new outbreak began, a rapid response was initiated by government to bring it under control.
Dr. Gasasira also lauded the government and people on the successful response to the recent re-emergence. “It is in full accord with the government’s calls for sustained vigilance. WHO will continue to support the country during the 90 days of heightened surveillance that began last week and all of its recovery efforts,” he said.
Deputy IMS boss Dr. Francis Kateh, upon receiving the certificate from Dr. Gasasira, expressed joy that Liberia has once again interrupted transmission of the EVD.
“Today, we take a moment to acknowledge that we have again stopped the transmission of EVD in Liberia. We have reached this milestone, thanks to the many sacrifices and unbreakable strength of the response team. We commit to do everything in our power to stop Ebola,” Dr. Kateh said.
He added, “Thanks to Ebola surveillance and the Incident Management System, rapid response plan and experienced field teams, the Ministry of Health and its partners quickly identified and isolated five additional cases and 143 contacts in two counties, Margibi and Montserrado Counties.”
He noted that the job is not yet over; rather the ministry will maintain heightened surveillance through community based surveillance initiatives that were developed during the course of the outbreak, and a policy of swabbing all dead bodies before burial. The government has already mandated health facilities and funeral homes to swab all dead bodies.
“Keeping Ebola out of Liberia is not just the government or partners’ business, but everyone’s business,” Dr. Kateh said. “Every citizen has been vital in stopping the worst disease outbreak in the country’s history.”