BAMAKO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Mali's health minister declared the West African nation free of Ebola on Sunday following a 42-day period without a new case of the deadly virus.
Mali recorded six deaths from Ebola, which, according to World Health Organization data, has killed more than 8,400 people in neighboring Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the worst epidemic of the viral haemorrhagic fever on record.
"I declare on this day, Jan. 18, 2015, the end of the end of the Ebola epidemic in Mali," Ousmane Koné said in a statement in which he thanked the country's health workers and international partners for their work to halt the outbreak.
Mali's last infected patient recovered and left hospital early last month. At one point health officials had been monitoring more than 300 contact cases.
Mali became the sixth West African country to record a case of Ebola when a two-year-old girl from Guinea died in October. It was close to being declared Ebola free in November before a second wave of infections. (Reporting by Adama Diarra; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Alison Williams)