World Health Organisation downgrades Ebola risk

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has downgraded the risk of Ebola.

The global health body said that the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa no longer constitutes as a "public health emergency of international concern".

Although new clusters of cases continue to occur, the risk of international spread is now considered to be "low", according to WHO's Emergency Committee.

Countries affected by the outbreak now have the capacity to respond rapidly when cases emerge, it said.

Any restrictions on travel and trade with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should be lifted immediately, the committee added.

As of March 13, there have been 28,639 cases of Ebola virus disease and 11,316 deaths, according to WHO figures.

Dr Margaret Chan, director general of WHO, said: "The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.

"However a high level of vigilance and response capacity must be maintained to ensure the ability of the countries to prevent Ebola infections and to rapidly detect and respond to flare-ups in the future.

"These countries continue to require the full support of the international community."

She said that the committee considered the cluster of cases recently reported in Guinea, but they believed that the affected countries now have the "capacities and capabilities to manage such flares".

Dr Chan added that the "Ebola response capacity in West Africa is strong", adding: "The three countries now have the world's largest pool of expertise in responding to Ebola."

Ebola is one of the world's deadliest diseases with around half of cases resulting in death.

The disease spreads from person to person as a result of direct contact with the blood, organs or other bodily fluids of those infected, with healthcare workers among those most at risk.

The symptoms of Ebola are severe, with patients often overcome by a sudden onset of fever as well as weakness, muscle pain and headaches. Vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, kidney and liver problems follow as the virus grips the body.