Ebola Crisis: United States Military To Withdraw Troops From Mission In West Africa
The United States military plans to pull most of its forces from West Africa where troops are helping to contain the deadly Ebola outbreak, US officials say.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby announced that nearly all of the 1,300 troops would return by April 30, ending a five-month mission.
In a statement, he said a small team of about 100 troops will remain in the region to help with the ongoing response.
The number of new cases each week dropped to about 150 in recent reports, down from more than 1,000 new cases per week in October, the White House said.
“We are encouraged by the declining number of new Ebola cases in West Africa, but remain concerned about a recent increase in cases in Guinea, and an inability to further reduce case counts in Sierra Leone,” it said in a statement.
“Moreover, given that a single case can lead to flare-ups of the virus, we must not lose focus.”
At the height of the epidemic, about 2,800 US military personnel were deployed to West Africa.
Troops built 10 Ebola treatment units and a medical unit to treat infected healthcare workers.
At least 10 people are known to have been treated for Ebola in the United States, four of them diagnosed with the disease on US soil.
Only two people are known to have contracted the virus in the US – both of them nurses who treated an Ebola patient from Liberia who became sick and died in Dallas.
US president Barack Obama secured more than $5.4 billion from Congress to fight the disease in West Africa and at home.
Some of those funds are being used to support the development of Ebola vaccines and therapeutic drugs.
The US government worked to train hospital workers to detect and handle Ebola cases, and ramped up screening of people returning from countries where Ebola raged.
The epidemic has killed almost 9,000 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.