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WHO declares Nigeria free of Ebola

The World Health Organisation has declared Nigeria officially free of Ebola virus disease, 42 days after the last person in possible contact with the virus…

The World Health Organisation has declared Nigeria officially free of Ebola virus disease, 42 days after the last person in possible contact with the virus was taken off observation.

WHO country representative Dr Rui Gama Vaz said double the 21 days required for observation without recording any new case of Ebola meant “the chain of transmission of Ebola” was broken in Nigeria.

The declaration comes exactly three months after the virus first emerged in Nigeria via Liberian American Patrick Sawyer.

The battle is won, but the Ebola was continues until it is defeated in all countries, warned Vaz.

He urged Nigeria not to relax vigilance at all entry points to forestall any re-entry of the virus.

Africa’s most populous country won praise for its swift response after an infected Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.

The WHO officially declared Senegal Ebola-free on Friday.

The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

An estimated 70% of those infected have died in those countries.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss how to strengthen their response to the threat posed by Ebola.

European countries have committed more than 500m euros (£400m; $600m) but the UK is pressing to double that amount.

The money is being sought to help reinforce over-stretched healthcare systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and to mitigate the damage Ebola is doing to their economies.

Ahead of the talks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested the EU could send a civilian EU mission to West Africa that would serve as a platform for sending medical staff.

Another diplomat said there were plans for three countries to spearhead aid to the region – the UK for Sierra Leone, France for Guinea and the US for Liberia.

Earlier, the Spanish government said a nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa had tested negative for the virus.

The WHO can declare an Ebola outbreak over if two incubation periods of 21 days pass with no new cases. The last reported case in Nigeria was discovered on 5 September.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says that although the nation is heaving a collective sigh of relief, experts warn that Ebola will probably return to Nigeria.

The outbreak there began when Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian citizen, was diagnosed with the illness in July.

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