Nigeria and Senegal are days away from being declared Ebola-free, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, highlighting a rare patch of good news amid a sharp rise of new cases in nearby West African countries.
WHO officials said that Nigeria and Senegal have nearly reached 42 days without detecting any new Ebola cases, at which point both countries would be officially declared free of the disease. Senegal could reach that designation by Friday, and Nigeria by Monday. Both countries would then be relieved from active surveillance.
The WHO credited “a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work” in which officials traced 100% of the people known to have contact with an infected patient in Nigeria and 98% of the people known to have contact with Ebola patients in Senegal.
“The anticipated declaration by WHO that the outbreaks in these two countries are over will give the world some welcome news in an epidemic that elsewhere remains out of control in three West African nations,” read an official statement from the United Nations health agency.
Nonetheless, a surge of new cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra had officials warning that the virus could rapidly spread across the worst-hit countries. “WHO epidemiologists see no signs that the outbreaks in any of these three countries are coming under control.”