Local health officials are dealing with a fresh Ebola outbreak after the country records seven new cases, including three deaths, with health chief Sakoba Keita declaring an ‘epidemic’ on Sunday.
“Very early this morning, the Conakry laboratory confirmed the presence of the Ebola virus,” Keita said in a statement.
“Faced with this situation and in accordance with international health regulations, the Guinean Government declares one Ebola epidemic.”
The positive cases were diagnosed after patients suffered diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding after attending the funeral of a female nurse, who died from an unspecified illness, in Goueke sub-prefecture.
Those still alive have been transferred to medical treatment facilities and are in isolation while health workers carry out the second round of tests to confirm the diagnosis and to trace close contacts, the state health agency ANSS said.
WHO Regional Director of Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said the resurgence of the Ebola virus in Guinea was very concerning but claimed health teams are moving quickly to trace the virus and block further infections.
“WHO is supporting the authorities to set up testing, contact-tracing and treatment structures and to bring the overall response to full speed,” she said.
The Ebola virus is a highly infectious virus spreading through human-to-human contact via bodily fluids, blood and contaminated environments. Infected animals may also pass on the virus to humans and spark new outbreaks. Fever, aches and fatigue are associated with the onset of the virus before progressing to diarrhoea, bleeding and vomiting, and in about 50 per cent of cases, death.
Currently, there is no clear understanding as to how those infected came into contact with the virus. However, the burial-and-funeral related transmission has posed a substantial risk in the past with washing and touching the deceased before burial common among traditional practices.
The WHO has said Guinea is better prepared to contain this resurgence of the virus because of advancements in vaccinations. Nonetheless, assistance has been rushed to the country, while Liberia has been put on high alert as a precaution.
This is the first known Ebola outbreak in West Africa since 2016 when approximately 11,300 people died from 2013-2016, with the majority of the cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Since 2016, the Ebola virus has only been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a resurgence recorded from 2018 to 2020, leaving more than 2000 dead. Earlier this year, the Congo declared an epidemic after a laboratory-confirmed case in North Kivu Province. The case, a woman living in Biena Health Zone, is still under investigation.