Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:42AM
This file photo, taken on Aug. 19, 2015, shows health workers wearing protective gear gesturing at the Nongo Ebola treatment center in Conakry, Guinea. (By AFP)
This file photo, taken on Aug. 19, 2015, shows health workers wearing protective gear gesturing at the Nongo Ebola treatment center in Conakry, Guinea. (By AFP)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that a two-year Ebola epidemic that took more than 11,000 lives in West Africa is now over.

The UN health agency made the announcement on Thursday after the outbreak ended in Liberia, which had joined Sierra Leone and Guinea, the epicenters of the outbreak in West Africa.

“Today the World Health Organization declares the end of the most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia and says all known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa,” the agency said.

It, however, warned that “the job is not over,” as “more flare-ups are expected.”

The announcement came 42 days after the last Ebola cases in Liberia were tested negative. The time is the equivalent of two incubation periods of the virus.

A photo taken on Nov. 12, 2014 shows health workers from Sierra Leone preparing to carry a corpse out of a house in Freetown. (By AFP)

The tropical hemorrhagic virus emerged in southern Guinea in December 2013, infecting nearly 29,000 people. The disease later spread into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Official data shows the outbreak killed 11,315 people, but the actual toll is thought to be much higher as many deaths have purportedly not been reported.

The WHO was harshly criticized for its slow response to the outbreak, as local healthcare systems were not equipped enough to handle it.

The deadly virus causes severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea. The epidemic in many cases shuts down organs and leads to unstoppable internal bleeding.

Close contact with the sweat, vomit, blood or other bodily fluids of a patient, or the recently deceased could cause the contagious disease.

A small number of Ebola cases were also recorded in Mali, Senegal and Nigeria.