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Liberia lifts Ebola state of emergency

November 13, 2014

Liberia has ended emergency measures, which the government imposed three months ago amid a rapidly growing Ebola epidemic. The virus still poses a threat, but Liberia says it has the situation under control.

Chinesische Helfer in Liberia 23.10.2014
Image: picture-alliance/Xinhua/Landov

Liberia's president ended a state of emergency on Thursday, citing signs of progress in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

"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.

While the West African country has been among the hardest hit by the hemorrhagic disease, Sirleaf said authorities and officials were now able to "sustain our fight against the virus" without the additional emergency measures, imposed in early August.

"The fight against Ebola is [not] over," Sirleaf emphasized.

Washington also acknowledged improved conditions on the ground in Liberia on Wednesday, when the Pentagon announced a reduction in the number of troops to be deployed there. According to the US military, Liberia currently has enough skilled workers - particularly, contractors - to address the infrastructural needs for which US soldiers had been authorized for deployment.

Roughly 3,000 US troops are now expected to be active in the West African country by December, or 1,000 less than had originally been authorized by US President Barack Obama.

According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola has claimed at least 5,100 lives across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since December. Some 14,000 people in total have contracted the virus during that same time period.

Clinical trials get green light

Doctors Without Borders - known by its French acronym MSF - also announced new clinical trials for drugs to cure patients of Ebola.

The trial medications, which include the US antiviral drug Brincidofovir and the Japanese antiviral drug Favipiravir "have not been approved and they have not been tested in humans for the treatment of Ebola," the project coordinator, Dr. Annick Antierens, said on Thursday.

"There is another therapeutic product that has been also selected, which is the use of convalescent plasma, or convalescent blood," she added, referring to a therapy which hopes to use anti-bodies existent in the blood or plasma of patients who survived Ebola.

A team from Oxford will conduct its tests in Liberia, while teams from France's National Institute of Health and Medical Research and Antwerp's Institute of Tropical Medicine will work in Guinea. Health officials in the respective countries are also expected to provide support to the trials.

Results from the WHO-led effort are expected by February or March.

kms/nm (AP, AFP, dpa)