The United Nations health agency has dispatched a team of specialists to Guinea after 2 new cases of Ebola were confirmed yesterday, the first re-emergence of the deadly virus in the Western African country since its original outbreak was declared over on 29 December 2015.
“WHO continues to stress that Sierra Leone, as well as Liberia and Guinea, are still at risk of Ebola flare-ups, largely due to virus persistence in some survivors, and must remain on high alert and ready to respond,” the agency said.
Guinean health officials in the region alerted WHO and partners on Wednesday to three unexplained deaths in recent weeks in Koropara, a village in the southern prefecture of Nzérékoré.
Yesterday, Guinea’s Ministry of Health, WHO, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) sent in investigators. Samples were taken from four individuals. A mother and her 5-year-old son, relatives of the decreased, have been taken to a treatment facility after the two confirmed positive for Ebola virus in lab tests.
In coordination with Guinea’s health ministry, WHO today deployed an initial team of epidemiologists, surveillance experts, vaccinators, social mobilizers, contact tracers and an anthropologist to support an inter-agency response.
More specialists are expected to arrive in the coming days. Response teams will work to investigate the origin of the new infections and to identify, isolate, vaccinate and monitor all contacts of the new cases and those who died.
The new infections in Guinea were confirmed on the same day that WHO declared the end of the latest Ebola flare-up in neighbouring Sierra Leone. WHO said recurrences of the disease should be anticipated and that the 3 Ebola-affected countries must maintain strong capacity to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks.
The worst Ebola outbreak in history first began in Guinea in December 2013 and has since claimed more than 11,300 lives, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.