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Mali free of Ebola, president says, as virus spreads in West Africa

The president of Mali declared the country free of Ebola on Saturday as the number of people who have been infected with the virus across West Africa rose above 16,000. 

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said the last patient known to be suffering from the virus in Mali had been successfully treated, Reuters reported.

“The suspected case turned out to be negative and the day before yesterday we had the good news of the first cured case of Ebola so I can now say zero cases in Mali,” Keita said at a summit in Senegal.

Six people have died from Ebola infection in Mali out of eight registered cases, the World Health Organization said this week. An additional 285 people are believed to have come into contact with the virus and are being monitored.

At the same time, the number of people who have been infected by Ebola across West Africa has risen above 16,000 with the death toll from the outbreak reaching nearly 7,000, the WHO said on Friday. Most of the new deaths were recorded in Liberia.

In just the two days since the WHO’s last fatality figures were released, the number of deaths rose by more than 1,000, but the new figure likely includes a backlog of previously unreported deaths from earlier in the outbreak.

The virus is spreading fastest in Sierra Leone, where 6,802 cases have been reported. Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, said the uptick in infections has caused a shortage of hospital beds and health care workers, the Associated Press reported. 

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