Senegal Declared Free Of Ebola
Following in the footsteps of Nigeria, Senegal is the latest nation in Africa to beat back the spread of Ebola from the “hot zone” countries in the western part of the continent:
GENEVA — The World Health Organization declared the West African nation of Senegal to be free of Ebola on Friday, a rare success in dealing with a deadly virus that has rampaged uncontrolled in neighboring countries and prompted alarm around the world.
Senegal’s achievement came as the health organization was reported to have internally acknowledged its own stark failure to arrest the disease months ago. The internal document reportedly went far beyond the self-criticism that organization officials have expressed publicly about their response.
The W.H.O. announcement on Senegal officially concluded a monitoring period of 42 days, twice the maximum incubation period for the virus, in which no new infections were found. The last recorded case in the country was a young man who was entering by road from Guinea; he recovered and returned to Guinea last week, the organization announced.
In what would be another conspicuous success, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, appeared close on Friday to declaring itself free of Ebola as well. The country would reach the 42-day milestone on Monday, after an outbreak that infected 20 people and resulted in eight deaths.
Senegal’s proximity to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries at the heart of the epidemic, “makes the country still vulnerable to additional imported cases,” the organization said.
More than 4,500 people have died from Ebola and more than 9,200 have been infected in the current outbreak, according to the latest W.H.O. tallyposted Friday on its website. The number of cases is still doubling every month.
Still, Senegal’s success in isolating the infection sets an example of good practice at a moment when the organization is trying to strengthen the readiness of 15 other countries in Africa to deal with arriving travelers who are infected with the disease.
This is the kind of positive development that needs to be seen in the fight against this outbreak. In addition to fighting the outbreak in nations like Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, it’s essential that authorities prevent it from spreading elsewhere in Africa from where it could spread to other parts of the world, which means not only the United States and Europe but also areas such as India, China, and South America where weaker medical infrastructure might make it easier for the disease to spread out of control.