The Ebola Hemorrhagic Disease that killed thousands of people in West Africa is no longer an International Public Health Emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced.

The Ebola outbreak ravaged through the Western Africa specifically Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The robust virus took 11,305 lives in the countries affected with 3,955 deaths in Sierra Leone, 4,806 in Liberia and 2,536 in Guinea. A total of 28,608 people were infected.

The Emergency Committee has concluded and advised that the Ebola epidemic no longer qualifies as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern during the 9th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee. Adding that though the 20-month global emergency response is over, the committee vigilance should still be maintained to prevent resurfacing of the killer virus.

"The experts further concluded that the likelihood of international spread by air travel is extremely low. I have accepted the Committee's advice," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said.

"However a high level of vigilance and response capacity must be maintained to ensure the ability of the countries to prevent Ebola infections and to rapidly detect and respond to flare-ups in the future," she added.

The Risk Of International Spread Is Low

The committee also said that the risk of international spread is now low even though re-emergence and reinfections happened in new clusters in West Africa. The members of the committee stressed that countries once affected by the outbreak should maintain the capacity to prevent, detect and respond to future infections.

Male survivors should also have their semen tested for the virus and vaccinations should be administered especially to those in close contact with patients who survived the disease.

"International support is required in particular to maintain and, where needed, expand diagnostic laboratory and surveillance capacity, sustain vaccination capacity for outbreak response, and continue relevant research and development activities," the committee said.

On The Road To Recovery

The three countries mostly affected by the outbreak are on the road to recovery. Sierra Leone expects to see its economy to grow by 4.3 percent this year.

The Ebola outbreak has negatively impacted the country's economy since the virus emerged in late 2013. The end of the Ebola outbreak signals the beginning for most people in Sierra Leone.

"The improvement (in Sierra Leone) reflects the pick-up in economic activities following the end of Ebola and the resumption of iron ore mining early this year," said John Wakeman-Linn, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official.

Photo: CDC Global | Flickr 

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