The World Health Organisation has announced that the three countries with the highest recorded Ebola epidemic have recorded their lowest weekly number of new cases for months.
As the global death toll reached 8,429 out of 21,296 cases reported so far, Sierra Leone and Guinea both saw the lowest weekly total of confirmed Ebola cases since August 2014.
Liberia, which reported two days with zero new cases last week, had its lowest weekly total since June, WHO said on Wednesday.
General Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, previously said the epidemic could be over by mid-2015, but WHO is now declining to set a specific timeline after having been proved wrong on previous predictions.
WHO spokeswoman, Winnie Romeril, told Associated Press news agency that,
“WHO hopes Ebola ends as soon as possible in all three affected countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea,”
“WHO is not predicting how soon Ebola will end as it would take every community to use the facilities and resources available to them.”
She said getting to zero cases will take time and effort that includes immediate treatment of patients and dignified, safe burials of the dead.
Sierra Leone’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma, predicted this week that his country would be Ebola-free by WHO standards by May.
By WHO standards, a country cannot be declared Ebola-free until it has registered no cases for 42 consecutive days.
It will be recalled that the death toll from the outbreak, which had been mostly confined to West Africa, had risen to 7,905, the WHO said, following 317 fatalities recorded since it last issued figures on December 24.
Sierra Leone is the worst-hit country with more than 9,000 Ebola cases, and the number of infections continues to grow. It accounted for 337 of 476 new laboratory-confirmed cases since December 24.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been the hardest-hit countries in the epidemic.