The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to identify and isolate all new Ebola cases in West Africa by the end of May to stop the spread of the lethal virus before the rainy season, says a new Ebola plan released recently.
The UN health agency plans to limit transmission of the virus to the coastal areas of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone before the rainy season begins, normally in April or May.
According to WHO, the decline in Ebola's spread has 'plateaued,' partly due to 'persistently high transmission' in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Officials say the rainy season will make it more difficult for responders to reach remote areas.
Although cases have dropped from the peaks of more than 800 cases per week in October, there is still a steady trickle of several dozen cases every week. Experts don't know where most new cases are coming from in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The last confirmed patient in Liberia died on March 27; if no new cases are identified there by May 9, the country could be declared Ebola-free, though some experts warn no country will be safe until the entire region wipes out Ebola.
To date, Ebola is estimated to have killed more than 10,800 people in the biggest-ever outbreak of the disease.