The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a significant drop in the Ebola cases in the three West African countries; with only 8 cases reported in Liberia last week, 20 confirmed cases in Guinea last week against 45 the week before and 117 in Sierra Leone last week against 184 a week ago. WHO added that Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were now adequately equipped to stem the deadly Ebola epidemic.
Mali, Senegal and Nigeria have been declared Ebola-free after having reported no new cases for 42 days. The World Bank also trimmed its estimates of the economic damage of the Ebola epidemic from $25 billion to $6.2 billion. Experts reviewed the Ebola crisis at an emergency meeting called by WHO in Geneva. They recommended the continuation of exit screening at airports for people leaving the worst-hit countries but at the same time underscored the need to avoid unnecessary interference with international travel and trade.
The WHO said, "Case incidence continues to fall in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Liberia, for instance, which had a peak over 300 new cases per week in August and September, only notched up eight last week. The three hardest-hit countries which have a creaky health infrastructure and were struggling to deal with the epidemic are now adequately equipped largely thanks to international help. They now have sufficient capacity to isolate and treat patients. Each country now also has sufficient capacity to bury all people known to have died from Ebola. Moreover the three countries now were able to monitor between 89 and 99 percent of registered contacts on a daily basis. There were 27 laboratories there providing case information services."
In its latest update on Ebola, the UN health agency said that a total of 8,626 people had died as of January 18 2015, almost all of them in west Africa, since the epidemic broke out in December 2013. There were about 21,689 confirmed cases.