New signs of progress against Ebola in West Africa

The number of new cases of Ebola are beginning to go down in the three main countries affected by the epidemic, the World Health Organization reported in a sign of progress Wednesday.

Sierra Leone and Guinea both reported their lowest weekly total of confirmed Ebola cases since last August, while Liberia saw its lowest week since July, according to the WHO.

ADVERTISEMENT

The dwindling number of cases — if it continues — could indicate that the epidemic is starting to abate after nearly 8,500 deaths. A total of 21,296 people have been sickened by the virus since last year.

The new figures come as a computer model developed by professors at the University of Georgia predicts that Liberia could be rid of Ebola by June if current practices continue.

The simulation accounts for a variety of factors on the ground, including hospital bed numbers and the safety of burial practices.

Officials in Liberia, where the U.S. response to Ebola was centered, said Tuesday that the spread of Ebola is limited to just two counties at this point. The government had previously set Dec. 31 as the target for no new cases.

"If we can go at this rate ... and maintain this trend, we will advance to zero for the entire country soonest," said Tolbert Nyenswah, the head of Liberia's Ebola response, according to Reuters.