Actor Orlando Bloom on Monday concluded a four-day visit to the Ebola-ravaged communities of Liberia, and praised the efforts of those fighting the virus in the region. The Lord of the Rings star, who is also Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, is the first high-profile celebrity to visit the country since the Ebola outbreak last year, People magazine reported.
“Everyone I met was determined to beat Ebola so that they can resume their normal lives,” Bloom said, after meeting religious and youth leaders in the capital, Monrovia, according to a statement by the United Nations, adding: “Communities have been at the centre of the fight against Ebola and must continue to be supported because of their crucial role in getting to zero cases.” Bloom also visited a primary school that had reopened after seven months, near the Sierra Leone border, to witness ongoing safety protocols.
“Because of this outbreak, a million children in Liberia have had their school year cut in half,” Bloom said, in the U.N. statement, adding: “They’re excited to be back in the classroom but the precautions that every single one of them must follow every day are a reminder of the need to remain vigilant.”
Ebola has claimed over 10,000 lives so far, mostly in West Africa, and more than 24,000 people have been affected by the virus. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, about 4,200 people in Liberia have died from the virus, which spread after the first case was detected in Guinea. On Friday, Liberia reported a new case of Ebola, only a few days short of being declared Ebola-free. A country is declared free of the virus if no new cases are reported within 42 days of the last Ebola patient being cured of the disease.