Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said that she would not seek an extension to a state of emergency imposed in August over Ebola.
Her announcement on Thursday is a sign of progress in the fight against the disease, which has killed more than 2,800 people in Liberia since breaking out in West Africa in March.
“Thus, having consulted relevant stakeholders, the national health team and partners, I have informed the leadership of the National Legislature that I will not seek an extension to the State of Emergency,” Sirleaf told a news briefing in the capital Monrovia.
We also know that Liberia cannot be declared Ebola free until our neighbours are also Ebola free
“We also know that Liberia cannot be declared Ebola free until our neighbours are also Ebola free. This means that we cannot let down our guard nor can we afford to reduce our vigilance,” Sirleaf told a news briefing in Monrovia.
“Notwithstanding these gains, a number of our compatriots are still lying in ETUs [Ebola Treatment Units], hot-spots are springing up in rural areas, and many of our compatriots are still dying of Ebola.
The current outbreak has infected more than 14,000. There are signs that the incidence of new Ebola cases is declining in Guinea and Liberia, though there are still steep increases in Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organisation.
Meanwhile, Mali announced tougher health checks at border crossings after registering its second Ebola outbreak.
The world’s worst ever epidemic of the haemorrhagic fever has infected more than 14,000 people and killed at least 5,160 since it erupted in March in West Africa, a region dogged by poverty and poor health care.
In Mali, which shares an 800km border with Guinea, a nurse died of Ebola on Tuesday, and on Thursday a doctor at the same clinic was also revealed to be infected.
More than 90 people had already been quarantined in the capital Bamako after the nurse’s death, just as a group exposed to Mali’s first case completed their required 21 days of isolation.
“The president of the republic has asked the prime minister to look urgently at the entire system put in place to fight Ebola and to strengthen health controls at the different frontier posts,” a government statement said.
But officials said there were no plans to close the border, even though the nurse had been infected by a man who arrived from Guinea.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) and health services in Mali and neighbouring states to set up a permanent information exchange to improve awareness about public health and hygiene.
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