MONROVIA: Liberia lifted its state of emergency on Thursday (Friday in Manila), announcing huge gains in the fight against Ebola, as Africa pinned its hopes on trials for a “miracle drug” to be tested on patients in Guinea.
The end of a raft of tough restrictions—the clearest sign yet that authorities in Monrovia believe they are beating the epidemic—follows a dramatic recent drop in new cases.
“I have informed the leadership of the national legislature that I will not seek an extension of the state of emergency,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced on state-owned radio network ELBC.
Sirleaf declared the emergency regime on August 6, speaking of “a clear and present danger” from Ebola, which at the time had claimed around 1,000 lives across west Africa.
She said the relaxation was “not because the fight against Ebola is over,” but because recent successes in battling the epidemic had combined “to reposition our efforts to sustain our fight against the virus.”
Sirleaf added that Liberia had acted “decisively” by imposing tough new regulations on closing borders, imposing curfews and quarantines, shutting schools, and restricting public gatherings.
Official figures show Ebola has claimed more than 5,100 lives across west Africa – 2,836 of them in hardest-hit Liberia – with the real death toll thought to be up to three times higher.
But the Liberian government said this week new cases had dropped from a daily peak of more than 500 to around 50, confirming tentative announcements by experts worldwide of an apparent slowdown.
Aid agency Doctors Without Borders, known by its French abbreviation MSF, said researchers would test a promising antiviral drug and transfusions of survivors’ blood in the first ever clinical trials on people with the virus. AFP