British Ebola nurse recovers as Liberian cases plummet | News | DW | 24.01.2015
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British Ebola nurse recovers as Liberian cases plummet

A nurse who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola on British soil has been discharged from hospital after making a complete recovery. It comes as the UN announced just five confirmed Ebola cases in Liberia.

Pauline Cafferkey fell ill in late December upon her return to Scotland from Sierra Leone, where she had been working for the charity Save the Children at an Ebola treatment center.

The volunteer nurse said on Saturday she was "happy to be alive" after making a complete recovery. She spent three weeks in an isolation unit at London's Royal Free Hospital, which also successfully treated British aid worker William Pooley.

"I still don't feel 100 percent, I feel quite weak, but I'm looking forward to going home. I want to say a big thank you to the staff who treated me - they were amazing," Cafferkey said.

Liberia near eradication of Ebola

The good news from Britain comes as Liberian authorities face an interesting dilemma. The country is close to eradicating the Ebola epidemic within its own borders, posing problems for a major clinical trial of an experimental vaccine due to start there.

Liberia and the UN said on Saturday that there were just five cases of Ebola remaining in the country.

"According to the WHO, the five cases are laboratory confirmed cases," said Lisa White, a spokeswoman for the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response.

Scientists from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Merck want to enroll 27,000 people at risk of infection in the Phase III Liberian study.

"It's going to be a hard trial," NIH head Francis Collins said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"It may, at this point, be hard to find 27,000 people at risk. It is going to be challenging," Collins said.

Infection rate declines

Almost 9,000 people have died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Most of these cases have been in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Sierra Leone on Friday announced the lifting of several anti-Ebola measures as cases of the virus there also decline. The restrictions had greatly impacted the country's economy.

jr/sb (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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