The sixth West African nation to record cases of Ebola has been declared free of the virus. The epidemic, which has killed thousands in the past year, appears to be on the decline.
The Malian government along with the United Nations declared the nation free of Ebola on Sunday, following a 42-day period 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 in a statement which was confirmed by the head of the Malian office of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response.
Mali suffered seven Ebola fatalities, the first in October after a 2-year old girl from neighboring Guinea died after coming to stay with relatives. Shortly thereafter a Guinean cleric died in the capital, Bamako, after having transmitted the virus to seven other people, five of whom died.
The last patient to be treated for Ebola in Mali made a full recovery and left the hospital in December, but countries must report no new cases for 42 days, two times the incubation period of 21 days, to be declared Ebola-free.
Guinean schoolchildren and university students will also head back to school on Monday, a sign that the virus which has infected 21,296 people and killed 8,249, mostly in West Africa, may be on its way out.
David Nabarro, the UN special envoy on Ebola, said this past week that at least 50 hotspots remained in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, but new cases are declining.
es/cmk (AP, AFP)