Head of U.N. Ebola response stresses importance of stopping virus before rainy season

Peter Jan Graaff, during his first week as the secretary-general’s acting special representative and head of the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, declared his commitment to stopping the Ebola outbreak.

“We have made great progress in fighting the virus, but we are not done yet,” Graaff said. “The rainy season is fast approaching, which will complicate efforts to contain the disease. We have a very small window of opportunity, and that window is closing fast. We can’t risk falling behind the virus again. We need to stay ahead of it and eliminate it before it is too late.”

Since Graaff began serving as Ebola crisis manager for Liberia in October 2014, the country’s Ebola case numbers have dropped to zero.

If no cases present themselves by May 9, Liberia will be declared free of Ebola.

“Until we reach zero cases in every country, Ebola still poses a threat to the region, and to the world,” Graaff said. “We must keep up our efforts over the next few weeks to trace and treat every last case.”

As of April 24, a total of 26,101 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola had been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 10,824 deaths. In the past three weeks, the decline in confirmed cases has halted, according to the World Health Organization.