Signs Ebola in Liberia May Be Over

Liberia’s last known Ebola patient Beatrice Yardolo, arrives for a ceremony at the Chinese Ebola treatment unit where she was treated, in Monrovia on March 5, 2015. James Giahyue/Reuters

The last Ebola patient in Liberia was released Thursday, and the country has seen no new confirmed cases of the disease this week, a positive step toward ending the spread of the disease in West Africa.

Beatrice Yardolo, a 58-year-old teacher, was discharged from an Ebola treatment center in Monrovia on Thursday, saying she was "one of the happiest human beings" on Earth, The Associated Press reports. She was admitted to the center, run by the Chinese government, on February 18.

For the first time since last May, Liberia has now gone a full seven days without a single new case of Ebola. Of the 45 blood samples of potentially infected individuals tested for the virus this past week, none were positive, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola situation report. The country can declare itself Ebola-free if no new cases are identified in the next 42 days, or twice the length of the 21-day Ebola incubation period.

Liberia, one of the three worst-affected countries, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea, has seen 9,249 cases of Ebola (as well as 4,117 deaths connected to the virus) since the outbreak began last March. In total, 23,983 people have been infected and 9,823 have died in those three countries, according to the WHO.

Last week, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the White House to thank President Barack Obama and the military for the U.S. mission to Liberia to help train health care workers and build Ebola treatment centers in the capital. That mission ended last week, five months earlier than expected, because of the rapid decline in cases.

However, in Guinea and Sierra Leone a combined 132 new Ebola cases over the past week were reported—an increase from the 98 new cases two weeks ago—and the number of deaths "remains high" because patients are not being isolated or treated early enough, according to the WHO.