In Brief

Ebola: why the fight against the disease is far from over

As Liberia releases its last Ebola patient, the virus continues to spread in other West African nations

The last Ebola patient in Liberia has been discharged from hospital, after the country went over a week without declaring any new cases of the disease. 

Beatrice Yardolo, who lost three children to the disease, has tested negative for Ebola after receiving two weeks of treatment in the capital Monrovia. Yardolo told reporters she was "one of the happiest persons on earth" as she left the treatment centre to return home.

"There was a lot of excitement because we feel that this is a victory," Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia's deputy health minister told the New York Times. "But it's not over yet," he admitted.

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has claimed almost 10,000 lives, the overwhelming majority in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Liberia has been worst affected by the outbreak, where 4,117 people are known to have died from the disease.

Officials have warned that the country is still at least weeks away from being declared Ebola-free. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts further outbreaks in the country are likely, as the disease continues to be extremely mobile.

"We look at the three countries as really a single country, so while it's good news that Liberia itself has no new cases, the populations are so mobile in that region that there could easily be re-importations of cases," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told the BBC.

"We have to get down to zero in all three countries before we can consider this thing beaten," he said.

In neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea, the picture is much bleaker. The number of new cases recently increased sharply in both countries, according to the latest weekly figures from the WHO. 

The latest numbers "suggest that the need for early isolation and treatment is not yet understood, accepted or acted upon," said the health organisation.

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