Killer Guinea Ebola outbreak spreads to the national capital, Conakry

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 9:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2014, 9:35pm

An Ebola epidemic which has killed dozens of people in Guinea's southern forests has spread to the capital, Conakry, the UN Children's Fund said.

"At least 59 of 80 who contracted Ebola across the West African country have died so far. Over the past few days, the deadly haemorrhagic fever has quickly spread from the communities of Macenta, Gueckedou, and Kissidougou to the capital, Conakry," Unicef said.

Conakry, a vast, sprawling port city on Guinea's Atlantic coast, is estimated to have a population of close to two million.

To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola, which kills up to 90 per cent of those infected, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.

The disease is transmitted by direct contact with blood, faeces or sweat, or by sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

Unicef said at least three victims of the outbreak, which was first reported on February 9, were children.

"This outbreak is particularly devastating because medical staff are among the first victims. So far it has killed at least eight health workers who have been in contact with infected patients, hindering the response and threatening normal care in a country already lacking in medical personnel," Unicef said.

The organisation urged Guineans not to attend funerals wherever possible and to avoid all contact with the sick and the dead.

Medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement on Saturday it had set up isolation units for suspected cases in the southern region of Nzerekore and was seeking out people who may have had contacts with those confirmed as infected.