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Ebola is back, adding to health and safety fears in Africa


Three people have died and another four are seriously ill after the deadly Ebola virus returned to the west African country of Guinea.

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Guinea has declared a new Ebola outbreak in the southeast – the first resurgence of the disease there since the world’s worst outbreak in 2013-2016.

The patients fell ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding after attending a burial in Goueke sub-prefecture. Those still alive have been isolated in treatment centres, the health ministry says.

“Faced with this situation and in accordance with international health regulations, the Guinean government declares an Ebola epidemic,” the ministry said on Sunday.

The person buried on February 1 was a nurse at a health centre and died after being transferred for treatment to Nzerekore, a city near the border with Liberia and Ivory Coast.

The 2013-2016 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa started in Nzerekore, the proximity of which to busy borders hampered efforts to contain the virus. It went on to kill at least 11,300 people, with the vast majority of cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Fighting Ebola again will place additional strain on health services in Guinea as they also battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Guinea, a country of about 12 million people, has recorded 14,895 coronavirus infections and 84 deaths.

The Ebola virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through contact with body fluids. It has a much higher death rate than COVID-19, but unlike the coronavirus it is not transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.

The ministry said health workers were trying to trace and isolate the contacts of the Ebola cases and would open a treatment centre in Goueke, which is less than an hour’s drive from Nzerekore.

The authorities have also asked the World Health Organisation for Ebola vaccines. The new vaccines have greatly improved survival rates in recent years.

“It’s a huge concern to see the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea, a country that has already suffered so much from the disease,” the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, was quoted as saying in a statement.

Given how close the new outbreak is to the border, the WHO is working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to beef up surveillance and testing capacities, the statement said.


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