In addition to the perhaps positive news out of Liberia, WHO officials are saying that the total number of new cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea may also be leveling off, with some officials telling the BBC News that they now expect the rate of new cases will be steady, at around 1,000 weekly cases total in all three countries. This is a contrast to the increasing pace seen earlier weeks, when the number of new cases was growing exponentially.
As with outbreaks of many infectious diseases, after the response is implemented, people expect the spread of the disease to begin to slow. Control measures as simple as educating people to avoid touching other people and stopping the traditional burial practices, can limit the upward spread of a virus.
But it is too soon to tell whether this will be the case with this Ebola outbreak, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
“I’m not so sure we are in that second phase just yet,” Schaffner said. “I hope it’s true, but until we have a more sustained period where the curve is flat, I think we’re going to be hopeful but cautious.”