Brigadier General Frank Tate, deputy commanding general of U.S.
Operation United Assistance, said the drop in the number of cases in
the country was all the more encouraging given recent improvements
in reporting capacity.
He said new daily cases have fallen to around 20 from close to 80
when the operation was announced in September. Ebola is still
spreading in other parts of West Africa.
"It's a dramatic improvement," he told Reuters on the airstrip of a
temporary U.S. logistics base in Dakar as dozens of U.S. soldiers
boarded a Monrovia-bound Hercules aircraft.
"It was decided between USAID (U.S. Agency for International
Development) and the Liberian government that two of the 17 Ebola
Treatment Units was no longer necessary. They were canceled," he
Elsewhere in West Africa, the disease is still spreading, especially
in neighboring Sierra Leone which recorded 533 new cases in the week
to Nov. 16. At least six people have died from Ebola in Mali, whose
government is now monitoring hundreds of contacts linked to Guinean
imam whose symptoms went undetected.
Tate's comments echoed other positive signs from Liberia, once the
epicenter of the worst known Ebola outbreak in history that has
killed more than 5,459 people. Already, the United States has
decided to trim the number of troops in Liberia from 4,000 to a
maximum of 3,000 in December.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf decided this month not to
renew a state of emergency there and set a national target of no new
cases by December 25.
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But Tate warned that authorities need to remain vigilant.
"We can by no means declare victory. We have to continue pressure on
this disease in Liberia as well as in Guinea and Sierra Leone and
work on border security," he said.
Tate said the United States had no current plans to shift resources
to other Ebola-hit countries. "If it became necessary and those
orders came to us, we maintain the capability," he said.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
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