March 23, 2015 9:46 AM EDT

The Ebola outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives in West Africa could end by the summer, a top health official said.

“We have been running away from giving any specific date, but I am pretty sure myself that it will be gone by the summer,” Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, told the BBC.

While there are still confirmed cases of Ebola in the most affected countries—Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone—the outbreak has been substantially declining over the last few months. The requirement for declaring a country “Ebola-free” is to reach 42 days with no new cases, and Guinea recently experienced an uptick in infections.

The widespread emergence of the outbreak is about to reach one year. To date, over 24,000 people have been infected with Ebola, and over 10,000 have died from the disease.

[BBC]

Read next: Slow International Response to Ebola Epidemic Cost Thousands of Lives: MSF

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