THE UN health agency has declared Liberia Ebola-free, hailing the “monumental” achievement in the west African country where the virus has killed more than 4,700 people.
It is a remarkable turnaround for a country that last year teetered on the brink of collapse, and is testament to the fortitude of its people when the odds stacked against it by the disease’s worst outbreak in history seemed insurmountable. (Read: Triumph in adversity—just 9 months ago Liberia nearly collapsed, now it stands on the brink of victory over Ebola)
“We are out of the woods. We are Ebola free. Thanks to our partners for standing with us in the fight against Ebola. We are Liberians,” tweeted Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown on Saturday after the announcement.
The news was also cheered by international organisations like the Red Cross, Unicef and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), as well as officials from the UN, US and European Union, who after inexplicably giving the virus a giant head start galvanised a response unlike any other for a modern health emergency.
While celebrating the milestone, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told The Associated Press the damage wrought is “a scar on the conscience of the world.”
For some survivors, she said, “the pain and grief will take a generation to heal.”
The risks remain: neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone are still in the throes of the outbreak.
But for now Liberians will sleep that little much easier, before the weary post-conflict country looks to again get up after yet another hammer blow to its recent troubled experience of nationhood.
It has not been easy, as we chronicle in this infographic: