[U] “Getting To ZERO!” — Unabashedly Joyful News — Ebola Epidemic Ended This Morning

Updated: A new fatality has occurred in Sierra Leone. The countdown to all clear must now restart, from zero.

All of Africa has been declared Ebola-free by the W.H.O., as of early this morning, and thus the world is essentially past the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic. And Merck was a key global, and mostly charitable, partner in that effort — as we’ve long reported.

The importance of this news is hard to overstate, especially in West Africa, where tens of thousands died or were debilitated, and the economies of three countries were severely hampered by the outbreak itself, with the public health mobilization and expenditures, and the loss of trade and tourism, during the height of the epidemic. Although vigilance is clearly still required, this is unqualified good news. A bit from the (overall Pulitzer Prize winning coverage by) The New York Times, then:

. . . .The announcement in Geneva came after a recent chain of cases in Liberia was snuffed out, marking the first time since the start of the epidemic two years ago that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the three countries that were hardest hit by the virus — had reported zero cases for at least 42 days, or two incubation periods of the virus.

Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, hailed the “monumental achievement” in curbing the outbreak, which, the United Nations said, killed more than 11,300 people and infected more than 28,500. At the height of the outbreak, the bodies of victims piled up in the streets of towns and cities that were overwhelmed and ill equipped to cope with the scale and speed of transmission. . . .

“People of course want to return to a normal, but it’s a new normal,” said Peter Graaff, a World Health Organization director who is in charge of Ebola response. “Ebola has been added to a number of their diseases that affect the population.”

The three West African countries now have the world’s biggest pool of expertise in handling Ebola and greater professionalism, confidence and resources for dealing with it, he said. . . .

Onward — with a broad smile, then. . . .


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