Bamako, Jan 19: The Malian government and the United Nations have declared the country free of Ebola after registering 42 days without any new cases of the deadly virus.
"I declare this day... the end of the epidemic of the Ebola virus in Mali," Health Minister Ousmane Kone said yesterday. The west African country "had come out" of the epidemic, confirmed Ibrahima Soce Fall, the head of the Malian office of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). Seven people died of Ebola in Mali.
The first fatality in October was a two-year-old girl brought from neighbouring Guinea to stay with relatives. Shortly afterwards, a Muslim cleric, also from Guinea, died in the capital Bamako. He transmitted the virus, directly or indirectly, to seven other people, five of whom died. The last patient to be treated for Ebola in Mali made a full recovery and was discharged from hospital in early December.
Countries must report no new cases for 42 days -- or two incubation periods of 21 days -- to be declared Ebola-free. A total 21,296 people have so far been infected with Ebola since the world's worst-ever outbreak began just over a year ago, and 8,429 of them have died, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization. The vast majority of the deaths occurred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.