The United Nations special envoy on Ebola has said the outbreak of the disease in West Africa appears to be slowing down. However, he added that the battle against Ebola was not over.
UN special envoy David Nabarro said on Thursday that the latest figures released by the World Health Organization showed that the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak - Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - had registered the lowest numbers of fresh cases in months.
Liberia reported its lowest number of new cases since June, while Guinea and Sierra Leone both recorded their fewest new cases since August.
"The change in behavior that we've been hoping for, working for, anticipating, is now happening everywhere," Nabarro said in an interview with the Reuters news agency.
"The facilities to treat people are available everywhere," he added. "Safe burial teams are providing safe and dignified burial services everywhere and the result is that we're seeing the beginnings of the outbreak slowing down."
The hemorrhagic fever is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people or the highly contagious body of someone who has died of the virus. Nabarro said traditional burial practices that involved people touching and cleaning bodies of Ebola victims had contributed to the rapid spread of the disease.
'More efforts needed'
Speaking to AFP, he sounded even more upbeat, saying the outbreak may have passed the "tipping point."
However, he cautioned in both interviews that more efforts were still needed to end the outbreak and he declined to speculate on how long this might take.
According to the WHO, this outbreak has infected more than 21,000 people and killed 8,400 people, making it the worst on record.
pfd/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)