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Ebola: timeline of a ruthless killer



Ebola virus

Here are key dates in the current Ebola epidemic, the worst ever outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever which first surfaced in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the latest toll given by the World Health Organization (WHO), the epidemic has left more than 11,000 dead, mainly in the west African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, out of over 26,000 cases.

Health authorities have admitted that the real picture could be far worse as many fatal cases may not have been reported.

The three West African countries hit hardest by the epidemic have called for an $8 billion “Marshall Plan” to help rebuild their economies and boost prevention efforts.

— DECEMBER 2013 —

– 6: A two-year-old child dies in Meliandou in southern Guinea and is later identified as “patient zero”. The virus remains localised until February 2014, when a careworker in a neighbouring province dies.

— MARCH 2014 —

– 24: Authorities in Guinea and the WHO say that since January the country has recorded 87 suspected cases of viral haemorrhagic fever, including 61 deaths. Scientists studying samples in the French city of Lyon confirm it is Ebola.

– 30: Liberia confirms two cases.

— MAY —

– 26: Sierra Leone confirms its first case.

— JULY —

– 25: Nigeria registers its first case, and is followed in August by Senegal and in October by Mali. Senegal and Nigeria are declared free of Ebola in October, while Mali is declared Ebola free in January 2015.

– 30: Ebola is “out of control”, according to the aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The three countries declare measures including states of emergency and quarantines. Many neighbouring nations close their borders with the affected countries.


– 8: The WHO declares the Ebola epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern”.

– 12: The WHO authorises the use of experimental drugs in the fight against Ebola after an ethical debate. A Spanish missionary contaminated in Liberia dies in Madrid, the first European fatality.


– 30: In the United States, a Liberian is hospitalised in Texas, the first Ebola infection diagnosed outside Africa, and dies on October 8.


– 6: First infection outside Africa, of a Spanish nurse in a Madrid hospital. She is treated and given the all-clear on the 19th.

— JANUARY 2015 —

– 17: The Africa Cup of Nations football tournament begins in Equatorial Guinea after being moved there at the last minute following Morocco’s refusal to act as hosts over fears of Ebola.


– 22: Liberia says it is lifting nationwide curfews and re-opening borders, after the retreat of the epidemic, and six days after children returned to school. In Guinea schools reopened on January 19, while Sierra Leone reopened schools on March 30.

– 26: The United States formally winds up its successful five-month mission to combat Ebola, after sending a military force which reached 2,800 personnel at one point, mainly in Liberia.

– 28: Sierra Leone reintroduces travel restrictions it eased in January as the number of new cases rises.


– 3: The leaders of the three worst hit countries call for more aid to eradicate the disease and rebuild their shattered economies at an international conference in Brussels.


– 17: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea call for a “Marshall plan” of $8.0 billion to rebuild after the crisis

— MAY —

– 9: The WHO declares the epidemic over in Liberia after 42 days without any new cases registered. The virus killed more than 4,700 people in the country in one year.

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