Chance of Ebola outbreak ending

There’s a reasonable chance the current outbreak of Ebola could end quickly.

FILE: A Sierra Leone health worker takes the temperature of a man at a checkpoint in Port Loko district one of the hardest hit areas due to the Ebola virus Sierra Leone 25 October 2014. Picture: EPA.

PRETORIA - There appears to be good news in the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The United Nations (UN) Special Envoy Dr David Nabarro says the crisis caused by the deadly haemorrhagic disease has reached tipping point.

Nabarro says there's now a reasonable chance the current outbreak of Ebola, which is the worst the world had seen, could end quickly.

Fresh data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that all three of the hardest hit countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have experienced the lowest weekly tally of new cases in months.

Nabarro says this puts them on the downward slope of the outbreak.

He cautions that more efforts are needed to end the outbreak and the downward trend will continue if practices are put into place to combat transmission.

"The change in behavior that we've been hoping for, working for, anticipating, is now happening everywhere," Nabarro told Reuters in an interview.

"The facilities to treat people are available everywhere," he said. "Safe burial teams are providing safe and dignified burial services everywhere and the result is that we're seeing the beginnings of the outbreak slowing down."

Nabarro declined to predict when the outbreak of the virus could be definitively over.

The hemorrhagic fever is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people or the highly contagious body of someone who has died of the virus. Nabarro said burial practices that involved people touching and cleaning bodies of Ebola victims had helped fuel the outbreak.

The worst Ebola outbreak on record infected about 21,200 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since it was detected in March, according to the WHO.