Credit: Abbas Dulleh / AP

Guinea On High Alert As Ebola Death Toll Rises In Days

With a death toll of over 11,000 in 2014, new reports have revealed a fresh outbreak of Ebola on Sunday in Guinea which has now claimed four lives.

Guinea reported an outbreak of Ebola on February 14, 2021, the first return of the disease there since the 2013-2016 surge, with cases and deaths reported in the N’zerekore region of the country, PUNCH Healthwise reports.

According to Guinea’s ministry of health, the cases were detected among seven people who had attended the burial of a nurse on February 1, 2021.

The victims still alive have been isolated and health ministry officials have commenced contact tracing according to Agence Nationale de Scurit Sanitaire (ANSS), in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an assistant professor of medicine for infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina, told The Associated Press that the news of the outbreak poses a serious concern for the economy and the health system.

“The resurgence of Ebola is very concerning for what it could do for the people, the economy, the health infrastructure,”

Kuppalli was the medical director of an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone during the 2014-2016 outbreak, which began in Guinea then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 28,000 people contracted the virus during those years, according to the CDC.

The Guinean government has however assured its people that it is doing all in its power to quash the resurgence of the disease. Officials announced that it is currently building a new Ebola treatment centre, while also accelerating the distribution of the Ebola vaccine.

“The government reassures the people that all measures are being taken to curb this epidemic as quickly as possible,” the ANSS said in its Facebook post.

With a fatality rate of about 50%, Ebola spreads through the bodily fluids of a sick or recently deceased person. Certain body fluids, like semen, can still transmit the virus after an infected person has recovered from their illness, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Infected animals, like bats or primates, can transmit the virus to humans and spark new outbreaks.

WHO Response To The Ebola Outbreak

New reports confirm that the World Health Organization has begun gene sequencing of Ebola samples from both Congo and Guinea to learn more about the origins of the recent outbreaks and identify the strains.

The organization has also asked six African countries around Guinea to be alert for possible Ebola infections.

“We have already alerted the six countries around, including of course Sierra Leone and Liberia, and they are moving very fast to prepare and be ready and to look for any potential infection,” Margaret Harris for WHO.

Neighbouring countries to Guinea include:

  • Senegal,
  • Guinea-Bissau,
  • Mali,
  • Ivory Coast,
  • Sierra Leone
  • Liberia.

According to the health ministry, it has identified 115 contacts of the known cases in the southeastern city of Nzerekore and 10 in the capital Conakry, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Congo has confirmed that its latest cases are not linked to a new Ebola variant but represent a resurgence of its tenth outbreak, the second-largest on record that caused more than 2,200 deaths in 2018-2020.

“As for the infection, we’re not yet able to identify its origin,” said provincial health minister Eugene Nzanzu Salita, referring to how the first person to fall sick in this resurgence caught the virus.

Ebola can cause fever, aches, and fatigue before progressing to “wet” symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and hemorrhaging and death.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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