By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries and the ASSIST News Service
MONROVIA, AFRICA (ANS – May 9, 2015) – Finally some good news from Africa, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Liberia free of the Ebola virus, confirming that the country has had no new cases in 42 days.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the BBC that Liberia had “crossed the Rubicon” and would be celebrating a concerted effort to stem the disease.
More than 4,700 deaths from Ebola have been recorded in Liberia, more than in any other affected country.
The BBC says that neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to fight the outbreak.
“It has claimed over 11,000 lives across the region since last year.
The WHO regards a country Ebola-free after a 42-day period without a new case – twice the maximum incubation period,” added the BBC story.
The last confirmed death in Liberia was on March 27th. On Saturday the World Health Organization said in a statement: “The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over.”
President Sirleaf told the BBC: “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.”
Officials say that Ebola was eventually conquered in Liberia through a collective. Care centres and hand washing stations were set up to try to halt the disease, which spreads through contact with sick people.
Billboards went up with slogans such as “Ebola is real”, “wash your hands and don’t touch” and “don’t be the next victim.”
“It has been a terrible time in the history of our country,” Monrovia resident Emmanuel Tokaowrote on a BBC Facebook page. “I’m firstly grateful to God, who I believe brought us back to normality.”
At the height of the outbreak, he said, “ambulances would either come for a dead body or sick person. It reminded me of the war days.”
Liberia lost around 250,000 lives in a civil war ending in 2005.
The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia says the president gave a sense of how traumatized the outbreak remains after the outbreak.
In an address to the nation on Saturday, she said: “Even today if you hear an ambulance siren you shake a little bit.”
Although Liberia has now been declared Ebola-free, correspondents say the outbreak will have a long-term impact on Liberia’s fragile economy.
The current outbreak is the deadliest in history. It initially centered on Guinea’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in early 2014, and later spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The WHO is warning against complacency. Its statement warns that there is “a high risk that infected people may cross into Liberia over the region’s exceptionally porous borders.”
Photo captions: 1) President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is a Methodist. 2) A poster in Paynesville, outside the capital Monrovia – part of the Liberian campaign against Ebola (Photo: EPA). 3) Chlorinated water has been placed outside public buildings (Photo: EPA). 4) Norma and Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 51 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States and around the world, and also “His Channel Live,” a TV show beamed to 192 countries. He is the author of some 45 books, the latest of which is a novel about the life of Jesus through the eyes of his mother called “Mary: My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary”. For more information, please go to http://marythebook.com/ , where you can find details of how to order the book.
Note: If you would like to help support the ASSIST News Service, just go to www.assistnews.net and click on the DONATE button to make you tax-deductable gift (in the US), which will help us continue to bring you these important stories.
** You may republish this or any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)