Liberia is Ebola-free, the World Health Organization (WHO) announces confirming the African country has had no new cases in 42 days.
More than 4,700 deaths from Ebola have been recorded in Liberia, more than in any other affected country.
Neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to fight the outbreak.
Ebola disease has claimed over 11,000 lives across the region since last year.
The WHO regards a country Ebola-free after a 42-day period without a new case – twice the maximum incubation period.
The last confirmed death in Liberia was on March 27.
On May 9, the WHO said in a statement: “The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over.”
According to WHO officials, Ebola was eventually conquered in Liberia through a collective. Care centers and hand washing stations were set up to try to halt the disease, which spreads through contact with sick people.
Billboards went up with slogans such as “Ebola is real”, “wash your hands and don’t touch” and “don’t be the next victim”.
Liberia lost around 250,000 lives in a civil war ending in 2005.
Although Liberia has now been declared Ebola-free, correspondents say the outbreak will have a long-term impact on Liberia’s fragile economy.
The current Ebola outbreak is the deadliest in history. It initially centered on Guinea’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in early 2014, and later spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The first batch of GSK’s Ebola experimental vaccine is on its way to Liberia.
The shipment will be the first potentially preventative medicine to reach one of the hardest hit countries.
However, experts say that, with Ebola cases falling, it may be difficult to establish whether the jab offers any protection against the virus.
The vaccine has been produced by British company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the US National Institutes of Health.
GSK said a plane carrying some 300 initial doses of the vaccine was expected to arrive in Monrovia on January 23.
The company hopes the first volunteer will be immunized in the next few weeks.
GSK CEO Andrew Witty said the pace of development was almost unparalleled and was comparable to only the development of a pandemic flu vaccine or new medicines for HIV.
Scientists aim to involve 30,000 volunteers in the trial in total, including frontline health workers.
If all regulations are met, 10,000 volunteers will be given the GSK vaccine.
A matching number will get a placebo, dummy vaccine. And there are plans for a further 10,000 people to get a separate experimental jab.
The results will be compared to see if either vaccine offers any meaningful protection against the virus.
A version of the vaccine has already been tested on 200 healthy volunteers across the UK, US, Switzerland and Mali.
GSK says it has been found to have an acceptable safety profile so far.
However, it is only in affected countries that experts can determine whether it provides adequate protection against the virus.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, of GSK said: “Shipping the vaccine today is a major achievement and shows that we remain on track with the accelerated development of our candidate Ebola vaccine.
“The initial phase one data we have seen are encouraging and give us confidence to progress to the next phases of clinical testing.”
GSK stresses the vaccine is still in development and the World Health Organization, and other regulators, would have to be satisfied the vaccine is both safe and effective before any mass immunization campaigns could be considered.
Field trials of other promising vaccines – for example one involving the company Merck – are planned in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the months to come.
There are reports that a trial of an experimental drug called Zmapp might start in the next few weeks.
However, experts say with the number of Ebola cases falling opportunities to test vaccines and drugs could be limited.
A trial of brincidofovir – a potential drug to treat Ebola – has started at a Medecins Sans Frontieres center in Liberia.
The antiviral is being tested on Ebola patients on a voluntary basis. People who do not consent to it receive standard care.
Oxford University scientists leading the research say initial results are expected in the next few months.
A study involving a similar drug – favipiravir – began in Guinea in December.
More than 8,000 people have died from Ebola during this outbreak, the majority in the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
While a handful of experimental drugs, including brincidofovir and favipiravir, have been given on an ad hoc, compassionate basis in the last year, none has yet been proven to work against the virus in scientific human trials.
A huge international effort – involving the WHO, MSF, drug companies, the Wellcome Trust, and other global health organizations – aims to fast-track treatments that have been identified as potential options.
Prof. Peter Horby, one of the chief investigators at Oxford University, said: “Conducting clinical trials of investigational drugs in the midst of a humanitarian crisis is a new experience for us all, but we are determined not to fail the people of West Africa.
“We are trying a number of different approaches simultaneously as there is only a short window of opportunity to tackle this virus during the outbreak.”
Scientists at Oxford say brincidofovir was chosen because it is effective against Ebola-infected cells in laboratories, has been deemed safe in more than 1,000 patients in trials against other viruses and can be given conveniently as a tablet.
Researchers aim to recruit more than 100 people and will compare death rates at the centre before and after the trial.
The other antiviral drug, favipiravir, being tested by the French National Institute of Health, is already used to treat influenza.
It is offered to all patients who receive care at the MSF treatment centre in Gueckedou, Guinea, and early results are expected in a few months’ time.
Scientists are testing other drugs and treatments.
Oxford University and the company Tekmira hope to establish a further study of a potential treatment which aims to interrupt the genetic code of the virus called TKM-Ebola.
Another approach is to use blood plasma from patients who have recovered from the disease. Trials of this are under way in Guinea’s capital, led by the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine. This treatment is also being given to the British nurse Pauline Cafferkey in hospital in London.
And trials involving three separate vaccines designed to prevent people from getting the disease, are taking place in Switzerland, UK, US and Mali.
While a number of different pharmaceutical attempts are being made to tackle the Ebola virus, experts say other strategies – including early and adequate hydration and nutrition – are extremely important.
CBS News’s correspondent Lara Logan is being quarantined in a South Africa hotel for 21 days as a precaution after visiting an American-run hospital treating Ebola patients in Liberia for a 60 Minutes report that aired on November 9.
Lara Logan’s 21-day self-quarantine will end on November 14, CBS said.
Neither Lara Logan nor the four other CBS employees in South Africa have shown any sign that they are infected with the virus.
Lara Logan is being quarantined in a South Africa hotel for 21 days as a precaution after visiting Ebola patients in Liberia (photo CBS News)
Lara Logan, speaking in a 60 Minutes Overtime web interview from the room where the CBS crew put its report together, admitted to some cabin fever as she waits out her stay. She said the South African government had given the crew permission to work at the hotel.
“We wanted to try, as much as possible, to minimize our exposure to anybody while we still had to get our piece done,” she said.
“We were very mindful of the fact that this 21-day period after you’ve been in an Ebola-affected country is very important to everyone.”
The interview showed Lara Logan and one of her colleagues in a room stuffed with equipment.
“We haven’t traveled far from the room that you can see,” she said.
The 60 Minutes report detailed Lara’s precautions while in Liberia, including being hosed down with a chlorine solution, having her temperature taken frequently and making sure not to touch people. A CBS security worker traveled with the crew with the responsibility of watching everyone’s interactions to minimize any chance they could be infected.
A cameraman who was working for NBC News in Liberia contracted the virus but recovered last month. Nancy Snyderman, the NBC News medical correspondent who worked there, was asked to go into voluntary quarantine when she arrived home but that was made mandatory after she was spotted leaving her home. ABC’s Richard Besser was not quarantined upon his return from Liberia because the ABC team was judged not to have had exposure to the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia.
Liberia is one of the West African countries worst hit by the Ebola virus.
Speaking in Geneva, Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015.
The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.
Most of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Dr, Marie Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director general for health system and innovation, said: “There are partnerships which are starting to be put in place to have capacity in the three countries to safely extract plasma and make preparation that can be used for the treatment of infective patients.
“The partnership which is moving the quickest will be in Liberia where we hope that in the coming weeks there will be facilities set up to collect the blood, treat the blood and be able to process it for use.”
Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia
It is still unclear how much will become available and whether it could meet demand.
If a person has successfully fought off the infection, it means their body has learned how to combat the virus and they will have antibodies in their blood that can attack Ebola.
Doctors can then take a sample of their blood and turn it into a treatment called serum – by removing the red blood cells but keeping the important antibodies – for other patients.
Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa, tested negative for the virus after reportedly receiving human serum containing antibodies from Ebola survivors.
Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said the treatment was not without risks, and WHO has already issued guidelines to ensure safety. Any donor blood will need to be screened for infections such a hepatitis and HIV, for example.
She said trials of two possible Ebola vaccines could produce initial results by the end of the year.
The vaccines will be tested first to see if they are safe for humans, and if they can protect people from the Ebola virus.
Once these questions have been answered, the WHO hopes to extend the trials to a much wider group of people and start giving it to Africa.
“These trials will all start in the coming two weeks… and continue for six months to a year but to have initial results about safety and immunogenicity to have a choice of a dose level by the end of this year in December.”
Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said there were a number of drugs being tested and developed in different countries.
A partnership between Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust is now visiting sites in the three affected African countries to identify which treatment centers would be adequate and willing to start testing drugs soon, she said.
Liberian nurses and medical assistants are on national strike, as the Ebola epidemic continues in the country.
The National Health Workers Association wants an increase in the monthly risk fee paid to those treating Ebola cases.
In the US, President Barack Obama has directed more steps to be taken to ensure high safety procedures when dealing with suspected Ebola patients.
A health worker treating an Ebola victim has herself caught the virus.
Liberia’s Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said a strike would have negative consequences on those suffering from Ebola and would adversely affect progress made so far in the fight against the disease.
The government says the scale of the epidemic means it now cannot afford the risk fee originally agreed.
Liberia’s National Health Workers Association wants an increase in the monthly risk fee paid to those treating Ebola cases
The risk fee is currently less than $500 a month, on top of basic salaries of between $200 and $300. Staff is now seeking a risk fee of $700 a month.
The health workers also want personal protective equipment and insurance.
Ninety-five of their colleagues have so far died from Ebola. Liberia is one of the countries worst affected by the epidemic.
More than 4,000 people have so far died in the Ebola outbreak.
A new UN centre to co-ordinate the fight against the epidemic is being set up in Ghana.
Six months after the epidemic began in west Africa there are still only about a quarter of the treatment beds required to tackle it.
Food is now in short supply as markets are disrupted in some parts of the three countries worst affected: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
In Liberia, elections have been postponed because the gathering of people at polling stations would endanger lives.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the number of people killed in the Ebola outbreak has risen above 4,000.
The latest figures show there have been 8,376 cases and 4,024 deaths in the worst-affected West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The news comes as Liberian lawmakers refused to grant the president additional powers to deal with the Ebola crisis.
Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has already declared a state of emergency that allows her to impose quarantines.
The number of people killed in the Ebola outbreak has risen above 4,000 (photo AFP)
One parliamentarian, Bhofal Chambers, warned that creeping extra powers could turn Liberia into a “police state”.
The total death toll of 4,033 includes the death of a Liberian man in the US, Thomas Eric Duncan, this week and the eight people who died in Nigeria, where health authorities say they have now contained the virus.
The UN says more than 233 health workers working in West Africa have now died in the outbreak, the world’s deadliest to date.
Spanish nurse Teresa Romero is being treated for the virus after becoming infected after an Ebola patient who had been repatriated from Liberia – the country most badly hit by the disease with 2,316 deaths.
Freelance photojournalist Ashoka Mukpo was diagnosed with Ebola on Thursday, October 2, and was being cared for at a treatment centre in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
His family said he was expected to leave there on Sunday, October 5, and arrive at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Monday, October 6.
Ashoka Mukpo, 33, was in high demand, contributing to a range of sites including NBC News, Vice News, Africa Is a Country and Al Jazeera English, among others.
His stories reveal a humanitarian striving to show the world Ebola’s horrors.
Ashoka Mukpo was diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia (photo Facebook)
On September 30, Ashoka Mukpo began a freelance job with NBC News as part of a news crew in Liberia telling the story of Ebola’s latest outbreak for NBC properties.
On October 1, Ashoka Mukpo felt tired, achy and sick. He has had a few fever scares before, but told friends he thought this time it was real. He quickly self-quarantined; then, on October 2, he tested positive for Ebola at a Doctors Without Borders facility.
Ashoka Mukpo, who hails from Providence, Rhode Island, arrived in Liberia on September 4, returning after a brief absence to a region he called home for the past several years. He was scheduled to stay in the country through October 4.
An American cameraman working in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola.
The 33-year-old freelancer is to be flown home to the US for treatment.
The unnamed cameraman has been working in Liberia for three years for a number of media outlets, most recently NBC News.
More than 3,330 people have died in four West African countries in what has become the world’s worst outbreak.
President Barack Obama has pledged federal support to contain the spread in the US, after the first case there.
A Liberian man diagnosed in Texas on September 30 remains in a serious condition.
The cameraman is the fourth American known to test positive for Ebola, all diagnosed in Liberia.
Three American aid workers were separately flown back to the US for treatment and they are all recovering.
There have been 7,178 confirmed Ebola cases in total, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea suffering the most (photo AP)
The cameraman was only hired by NBC News on September 30, the broadcaster said, and he came down with symptoms – including fever and aches – the following day.
After seeking medical advice, he tested positive for the virus.
NBC News President Deborah Turness informed staff of the news in a statement.
“We are doing everything we can to get him the best care possible. He will be flown back to the United States for treatment at a medical center that is equipped to handle Ebola patients.”
The rest of the NBC crew including the network’s chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, are being flown back to the US on a private charter flight and will be placed under quarantine for 21 days, Deborah Turness added.
Meanwhile, as many as 100 people in Texas are being checked for exposure to Ebola, after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, was diagnosed with the virus in Dallas.
Thomas Eric Duncan flew to the US two weeks ago to visit relatives.
A number of them have been ordered to stay home while they are watched for signs of the disease.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was called by President Barack Obama on October 2 who promised to help with whatever was needed from federal resources to stop it spreading.
Thomas Eric Duncan was the first person diagnosed on US soil and on October 2, Liberian officials said they would prosecute him for lying on an Ebola questionnaire form prior to leaving the country.
The Ebola outbreak has prompted dire warnings of economic collapse in West Africa if infection rates continue.
There have been 7,178 confirmed Ebola cases in total, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea suffering the most.
President Barack Obama will announce today his plans to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to help fight the Ebola virus, US officials say.
It is understood the US military will oversee building new treatment centers and help train medical staff.
There has been criticism of the slow international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are the worst-hit countries.
The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,400 people.
More than half of those killed by the virus have been in Liberia. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned recently that the country could see thousands of more cases.
UN officials will discuss the international response to the outbreak at a meeting in Geneva.
Barack Obama is planning to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to help fight the Ebola virus
US officials said the aim of the country’s anti-Ebola initiative is to:
Train up to 500 healthcare workers a week
Construct 17 healthcare facilities, each with about 100 beds
Establish a joint command based in Monrovia, Liberia, to co-ordinate between US and international relief efforts
Distribute home healthcare kits to thousands of households
Conduct a home and community-based campaign to train local people in how to handle patients
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appealed directly to Barack Obama for help in tackling the outbreak.
Several disease experts have welcomed the US plan, though some also question its focus on Liberia.
“We should see all of West Africa now as one big outbreak,” says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, quoted in The New York Times.
“It’s very clear we have to deal with all the areas with Ebola.”
Ebola spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.
Liberia has imposed a night-time curfew in a bid to halt the deadly Ebola outbreak.
In addition, it has quarantined an area of the capital Monrovia.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the curfew would be from 21:00 to 06:00 local time.
She said all movement would be blocked in and out of the West Point area.
Meanwhile, three doctors with Ebola who started taking experimental drug ZMapp last week showed remarkable signs of improvement, a Liberian minister said.
Liberia has imposed a night-time curfew in a bid to halt the deadly Ebola outbreak (photo AP)
Information Minister Lewis Brown said the drug was given to one Nigerian and two Liberian doctors who had caught Ebola while helping to save the lives of other victims of the virus.
In a radio broadcast, the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf blamed her government’s failure to bring Ebola under control on the public’s disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for official warnings.
Liberia already imposed a state of emergency earlier this month, but the number of deaths from the disease has continued to climb.
A mob attacked a health centre in West Point on Saturday, during which 17 suspected Ebola patients went missing.
Ebola has no known cure but the World Health Organization (WHO) has ruled that untested drugs can be used in light of the scale of outbreak in West Africa.
Since the beginning of the year, 1,229 people have died of the virus.
It is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person.
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can cause organ failure.
Ebola outbreak began in Guinea and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Liberia’s information ministry has announced that 17 suspected Ebola patients who went missing after a Monrovia quarantine centre was attacked have been found.
The government had previously denied they were missing.
New UN figures show that 1,229 people have now died since the beginning of this year in the outbreak that has also hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says there were 84 deaths reported between August 14 and 16.
Ebola has no known cure, but the WHO has ruled that untested drugs can be used to treat patients in light of the scale of the current outbreak – the deadliest to date.
The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person. Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external hemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can cause organ failure.
The Liberian information minister said the missing patients were now at the newly expanded treatment unit opened over the weekend at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in the capital, Monrovia.
He also said the health of three Liberian doctors infected with Ebola had improved after they receiving the experimental drug ZMapp.
Two US missionaries, who were flown home for treatment from Liberia, are reportedly recovering from the virus after taking doses of the same medicine.
ZMapp was also given to a 75-year-old Spanish priest who contracted Ebola in Liberia, but he died in Spain last week.
Seventeen suspected Ebola patients who went missing in Liberia after a Monrovia quarantine centre was attacked have been found
In Nigeria, which has had four fatal Ebola cases, health officials say five people have now recovered from the virus and been discharged from hospital in Lagos. Another three are still being treated.
The attack on Liberian quarantine centre, where 37 people were being held in Monrovia’s densely populated West Point township, took place on Saturday evening.
There are conflicting reports over what sparked the riot, in which medical supplies were also stolen.
Officials said the protesters were unhappy that patients were being taken there from other parts of the capital. Other reports suggested the protesters had believed Ebola was a hoax and wanted to force the centre to close.
There are also reports that the mattresses and linen being used by patients were taken during the attack.
In neighboring Sierra Leone, the agricultural minister has said the outbreak is also having a severe impact on the economy, as 66% of people were farmers and agriculture accounted for 46% of GDP and 25% of all exports.
Since the outbreak spread to Nigeria in July, when a person infected with Ebola flew from Liberia to Lagos, several airlines have stopped flights to the worst-affected countries.
Kenya’s ban on people from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone entering the East African nation comes into force on Wednesday – and Cameroon has closed its land, sea and air borders with Nigeria.
Liberia has admitted that 17 suspected Ebola patients are “missing” after a quarantine unit in capital Monrovia was looted.
The government previously denied the patients are missing and tried to reassure people, saying they had been moved to another health facility.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for exit screenings on all travelers from affected countries.
It wants checks at airports, sea ports and major land crossings.
Several airlines have already stopped flying to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – the countries worst affected by the world’s most deadly outbreak of Ebola, which has no known cure.
The Ebola virus has killed 1,145 people this year, the WHO says.
Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah said protesters in the West Point district attacked a quarantine centre on Saturday because they were unhappy that patients were being taken there from other parts of the capital, Monrovia.
Liberia has admitted that 17 suspected Ebola patients are missing after Monrovia quarantine unit was looted (photo Getty Images)
Other reports suggested the protesters had believed Ebola was a hoax and wanted to force the centre to close.
Tolbert Nyenswah had said that all the suspected patients had been transferred to an Ebola treatment centre in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia.
However, on Monday, Liberia’s information minister said 17 of the 37 patients were unaccounted for.
He said the authorities were now trying to track them down but said he was confident they would return.
He said the attack on the quarantine centre was Liberia’s greatest setback since the Ebola outbreak began.
Blood-stained mattresses, bedding and medical equipment were taken from the centre.
The looting spree could spread the virus to the whole of the West Point area.
Lindis Hurum, from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), says there is an urgent need for a massive public awareness campaign in Liberia.
MSF says the Ebola outbreak has had a terrible impact on Liberia’s entire healthcare system, which it says is more or less falling apart.
Many health facilities have closed, with patients as well as medical staff, too scared to turn up for fear of catching the disease.
The Ebola epidemic began in Guinea in February and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
One Nigerian doctor has survived the disease and was sent home on Saturday night, said Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu in a statement.
Onyebuchi Chukwu said five other people infected with Ebola had almost fully recovered.
The death toll of 1,145 was announced on Friday after the WHO said 76 new deaths had been reported in the two days to August 13. There have been 2,127 cases reported in total.
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