WHO declares end to Ebola emergency

WHO declares end to Ebola emergency
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The World Health Organization on Tuesday declared the Ebola virus is no longer a public health threat, marking the end of a 20-month global emergency that left 11,000 people dead.

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Officials from the United Nations’s health arm said the disease “no longer constitutes an extraordinary event,” highlighting the progress made by the three West African countries hardest hit by the disease. They warned that more cases are likely to occur, but there is low risk of a wider outbreak.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, made the decision to downgrade the threat after the group’s emergency committee on Ebola met Tuesday in Geneva.  

That committee warned that new cases of Ebola are likely to still appear in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, “though at decreasing frequency.”

Those three countries now “have the capacity to respond rapidly to new virus emergences,” the committee decided, according to a WHO statement. All three countries have prevented large outbreaks of the disease in 2016, though 12 clusters have been reported in the past several weeks.

“The Committee was impressed that to date all of these clusters have been detected and responded to rapidly, limiting transmission to at most two generations of cases,” the WHO wrote in a statement.