Guinea reports first Ebola deaths since 2016, as DR Congo battles fresh outbreak
- The West African country was the epicentre of an Ebola epidemic five years ago that left over 11,000 dead across the region
- Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed a resurgence three months after it declared the end of the country’s latest outbreak
Remy Lamah said officials were “really concerned” about the deaths, the first since a 2013-2016 epidemic – which began in Guinea – left 11,300 dead across the region.
One of the latest victims in Guinea was a nurse who fell ill in late January and was buried on February 1, National Health Security Agency head Sakoba Keita told local media on Saturday.
“Among those who took part in the burial, eight people showed symptoms: diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding,” he said. “Three of them died and four others are in hospital.”
The four deaths from Ebola haemorrhagic fever occurred in the southeast region of Nzerekore, he said.
Keita also told local media that one patient had “escaped” but had been found and hospitalised in the capital Conakry. He confirmed the comments to AFP without giving further detail.
The World Health Organization has eyed each new outbreak since 2016 with great concern, treating the most recent one in the Democratic Republic of Congo as an international health emergency.
On Sunday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that the UN health agency had been informed of two suspected cases of the deadly disease in Guinea.
“Confirmatory testing under way,” the tweet said, adding that WHO’s regional and country offices were “supporting readiness and response efforts”.
The DRC has faced several outbreaks of the illness, with the WHO on Thursday confirming a resurgence three months after authorities declared the end of the central African country’s latest outbreak.
A third Ebola case was reported in North Kivu province, provincial health minister Eugene Nzanzu Salita said on Friday.
The case was found in Butembo, a city of over 1 million people and the epicentre of a previous major outbreak of the disease.
“We are in a meeting to gather all the information on the investigations done around this case,” said Salita.
The DRC’s health ministry announced a resurgence of the disease on February 7, after a woman contracted Ebola and died. She was married to a survivor of the previous outbreak.
On Friday, 1,200 doses of Ebola vaccine and cold chain equipment arrived in Butembo, the health ministry and WHO said in a statement.
Health workers are training vaccinators and tracing more than 100 contacts in the districts of Biena and Katwa, the statement said.
The country had declared the six-month epidemic over in November. It was the country’s 11th Ebola outbreak, claiming 55 lives out of 130 cases.
The widespread use of vaccinations, which were administered to more than 40,000 people, helped curb the disease.
The 2013-2016 outbreak sped up the development of a vaccine against Ebola, with a global emergency stockpile of 500,000 doses planned to respond quickly to future outbreaks, the vaccine alliance Gavi said in January.
The virus was first discovered near the Ebola river in 1976. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through contact with body fluids.