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The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has slowed to its lowest rate of the year, the World Health Organization reported Wednesday, and Liberia’s just on the brink of being declared Ebola-free.

But the case total for the entire epidemic has hit a startling 26,593, with more than 11,000 deaths -- 100 times greater than most previous outbreaks.

WHO’s latest report on the epidemic shows that Guinea and Sierra Leone each had 9 new cases of Ebola. Liberia did not have any, and it’s only three more days before Liberia becomes officially Ebola-free.

“This is the lowest weekly total this year, and comes after a month-long period during which case incidence fluctuated between 30 and 37 confirmed cases per week,” WHO said in its report.

“That both countries have each reported fewer than 10 cases is encouraging, but it is important to guard against complacency. Liberia has reported fewer than 10 cases per week since the start of January this year, but the outbreak will be declared to have ended only if no new cases are reported up to 9 May, which marks 42 complete days since the burial of the last confirmed case.”

The last Liberian case was a woman whom doctors suspect was infected by an Ebola survivor through sexual transmission.


-- Maggie Fox