UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Ebola chief said Wednesday his priority now that the deadly epidemic appears to be ending is helping more than 15,000 survivors who need medical and psychological support.

Dr. David Nabarro said that the survivors are distressed, not trusted, and are stigmatized in addition to facing medical problems including diminished vision and joint pains.

“They really need to be treated as the heroes of the outbreak,” he said, not as outcasts.

The outbreak caused its first deaths in December 2013, made headlines in March 2014 in Guinea and soon spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. By early June 2014, the Ebola epidemic was the deadliest ever recorded.

Nabarro spoke a day after Guinea reported that its last known Ebola case – a baby whose mother died – tested negative for a second time, starting a 42-day countdown for the country to be declared virus-free.

Liberia and Sierra Leone already have reached the 42-day benchmark – two incubation periods of 21 days for new cases to emerge – and are now in a 90-day period of enhanced surveillance, Nabarro said.

But he cautioned there could be flare-ups, as happened in Liberia after it was declared Ebola-free for the first time in May.

Nabarro said survivors need a comprehensive package of care to maintain good hygiene, practice safe sex and ensure that they get psychological, medical and economic help.