21 Oct 2014

Nigeria declared free of Ebola

6:52 am on 21 October 2014

Nigeria has been declared officially free of Ebola after six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Nigeria

World Health Organization's representative Rui Gama Vaz (c), congratulates Nigeria's Minister of Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu (L) and Minister of State for Health Dr Haliru Alhassan after the country was cleared of Ebola. Photo: AFP

WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz, speaking in the capital Abuja, said it was a "spectacular success story", the BBC reported.

Nigeria won praise for its swift response after a Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.

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

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

The WHO officially declared Senegal Ebola-free last week.

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

Speaking on the sidelines, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he expected the meeting to appoint a co-ordinator to galvanise the EU's response to the epidemic.

"My colleagues are unanimous in saying that this idea of a European co-ordinator for the fight against Ebola is a good idea.

"The name will be chosen in the coming days. I think it's a very important step."

European countries have committed more than $500m euros 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.

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

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