Nigeria was declared Ebola-free yesterday in a “spectacular success” in the battle to contain the spread of a virus which is devastating Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia where more than 4,500 people have died.
The World Health Organisation said Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country where eight deaths had sparked fears of a rapid spread through its teeming cities, had shown the world “that Ebola can be contained.”
Senegal was declared free of the virus last week.
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg said the bloc must step up efforts to contain Ebola and prevent it becoming a global threat.
Amid concerns that the global response has been too slow, the 28 EU nations agreed to do more to get foreign medical staff onto the Ebola frontline.
They also agreed to appoint an Ebola coordinator.
“The person will be named in the coming days,” French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius told reporters.
In the US, the absence of any new cases in the last five days prompted cautious optimism from health authorities that the virus had been contained there after a flawed initial response.
In another encouraging piece of news, test results showed a Spanish nurse who was the first person to contract the virus outside Africa appears to now be clear of the disease after treatment.
But while the rest of the world appeared to be winning the fight to keep Ebola at bay, the three West African countries that account for the vast majority of the 4,500 deaths–Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea–were counting a rising human and economic cost.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf warned Sunday that a generation of Africans was at risk of “being lost to economic catastrophe”because of the crisis.