U.S. to withdraw nearly all troops fighting Ebola in West Africa

U.S. to withdraw vast majority of the troops fighting Ebola in West Africa; about 100 to stay in region

The U.S. will withdraw nearly all of its military personnel fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House and the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Nearly all the troops will exit the region by April 30, the Pentagon said in a statement. About 1,500 military personnel have already returned to their posts, it said.

“All have or will undergo established controlled monitoring procedures” upon their return, the agency announced.

About 2,800 military personnel were sent to the region at the height of the epidemic last fall to help construct Ebola treatment units, train healthcare and aid workers, and provide logistical support. President Obama announced the initiative in September after agencies such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the deadly Ebola outbreak was growing exponentially, outstripping the region’s capacity to respond.

As of Jan. 8, the Pentagon said, more than 2,300 personnel remained, the vast majority in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

About 100 troops will remain stationed in West Africa on the Ebola response, helping bolster the national governments’ preparedness and disease surveillance efforts, officials said.

The announcement of the withdrawal came after healthcare workers have appeared to turn the tide on the deadly disease, which is believed to have infected more than 22,000 people and killed nearly 9,000.

Figures released last month by the World Health Organization suggest the rate of new infections in the region’s three hardest-hit countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea -- is declining sharply.

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