WHO declares Ebola outbreak in Guinea

Posted by Anita Froneman on 15 February 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed a new Ebola outbreak in the West African country of Guinea on February 14.

The community of Gouéké in N’Zerekore detected three Ebola cases, marking the first time the disease has been reported in the country since an outbreak ended in 2016.

Initial investigations found that a nurse from the local health facility died on January 28, 2021. Following her burial, six people who attended the funeral reported Ebola-like symptoms and two of them have died, while the other four have been hospitalised.

According to the US Embassy in Guinea, the country’s borders are open. The Gbessia International Airport in Conakry is operational, and most airlines have resumed regular flight schedules. South Africans need visas to enter Guinea, but travel to the country is currently strongly discouraged. Guinea’s Health State of Emergency has been extended through February 15.

Guinea was one of the three most-affected countries in the 2014–2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which was the largest since the virus was first discovered in 1976.

‘It’s a huge concern to see the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea, a country which has already suffered so much from the disease. However, banking on the expertise and experience built during the previous outbreak, health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections,’ said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

‘WHO is supporting the authorities to set up testing, contact-tracing and treatment structures and to bring the overall response to full speed.’

WHO staff are already on the ground. In addition to surveillance, they will help with ramping up infection prevention and control of health facilities and other key locations and reaching out to communities to ensure they take a key role in the response. WHO is also supporting the country to procure the Ebola vaccine which has proven instrumental in controlling outbreaks in the DRC.

During the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak there were 28 000 cases, including 11 000 deaths. The outbreak started in Guinea and then moved across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Picture: Unsplash

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