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Swedish expert says Ebola risk has reduced

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Swedish expert says Ebola risk has reduced
Many in Liberia have little but chlorine to protect themselves from Ebola. Photo:TT
11:05 CET+01:00
A leading Swedish expert on global health has said that the threat of the Ebola virus has decreased and suggested that the battle against the epidemic is entering a new phase.

Hans Rosling, Professor of Global Health at Karolinska Institute, said the number of new Ebola cases in recent months indicated that the virus was not spreading as much as previously anticipated.

"We're in a new phase now," Rosling told the Science journal.

He later posted on Twitter: "Ebola response in Liberia is now entering the second phase. No longer a virus hunting humans. Now we hunt the virus!"

At its peak more than 100 people were contracting Ebola on a daily basis in Liberia. Experts had predicted that by Christmas there would be thousands of new cases, but that has proven to be far off the mark.

In Liberia the number of new daily cases has decreased to 20 per day, with hundreds of beds laying empty in specialist treatment centres.

That figure has still been labelled a "catastrophe" by Kevin De Cock, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rosling weighed in on the debate about how effective the response has been from the international community.

"What we needed to do in the first phase with rugby, now it is chess," said the Swede.

 
In Monrovia, where scores of cases were reported, the decision was made to close schools to stave off the Ebola threat. Now many schools are set to be reopened with Rosling urging caution after meeting with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. 

The president has since lifted the state of emergency which had been in place since August. 

Earlier this month The Local reported on how Sweden was preparing for potential Ebola cases.

"We are working round-the-clock to see that we have good preparation in Sweden in case we get Ebola," said new Public Health Minister Gabriel Wikström.  

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