The U.S. military is bringing home all but 100 troops dispatched to West Africa almost 10 months ago in an effort to stem the Ebola epidemic, according to a statement released by the White House on Wednesday.
The White House reports that Sierra Leone has witnessed the steepest decline at over 80 percent in new Ebola cases. At the peak of the outbreak took off last summer, there were 534 confirmed new cases per week. Today there are 76 confirmed new cases, the statement says.
CNN reports that there have been more than 22,000 reported confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola since the outbreak began, with almost 8,800 known deaths:
“At the height of the epidemic, there were 2,800 DoD [Department of Defense] personnel deployed to West Africa,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said. “Given the success of the U.S. response to the crisis, the majority of DoD personnel in West Africa will now return home.
“Today, around 1,500 of them are already back to their duty stations and nearly all will return by April 30. All have or will undergo established controlled monitoring procedures.”
Liberia has also witnessed steep declines in Ebola cases. At the height of the outbreak, there were 119 confirmed cases per week. This week there were 3 confirmed new cases, the White House says. Despite a spike in new cases in Guinea, the country has also seen its Ebola numbers cut nearly in half. At the peak of the outbreak in Guinea, there were 148 confirmed cases per week, the statement says. There are 66 confirmed new cases this week, the White House says.
Officials attribute the declines to advancements in medical treatment, including therapeutics to identify, prevent, and treat the disease, the report says.
To commemorate the decline in cases and advancements in treatment, Obama met with 13 private sector and foundation leaders, including actor Jeffrey Wright, who have joined the international response to help fight the Ebola epidemic. In December, Wright directed a PSA for the fund starring his “Hunger Games” castmates, according to the Washington Post.
“We are encouraged by the declining number of new Ebola cases in West Africa, but remain concerned about a recent increase in cases in Guinea, and an inability to further reduce case counts in Sierra Leone,” the statement says. “Moreover, given that a single case can lead to flare-ups of the virus, we must not lose focus. We will continue to pursue our flexible and adaptable strategy, meeting the evolving conditions on the ground until we have reached zero cases.”