West African countries on high alert following Ebola outbreak in Guinea

Health officials in the southeastern N’Zerekore district said seven people attending the funeral of a nurse tested positive for the disease and experienced symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Three of them died after the funeral on February 1st. It is unclear whether the nurse who worked at the local health center died of Ebola.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided support to Guinea and has helped provide the Ebola vaccine, which has helped control recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its team is already on site and also helps ensure infection prevention and control in health facilities and other important locations as well as reaching out to communities.

An Ebola treatment center is also opening in the Gouecke region of N’Zerekore, where the outbreak was declared.

The Red Cross said in a statement that a network of more than 700 trained volunteers has been “activated as part of a first wave of response, and the government has urged people to respect hygiene and prevention measures and to report signs of the disease to health authorities. “

The world’s largest Ebola outbreak to date started in 2014 in Guinea and continued until 2016, spreading to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 28,000 people were infected, and more than 11,000 of them died.

The current outbreak has started again in a border area in Guinea, and the WHO says it is working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to increase surveillance in border districts as well as improve the capacity to test for cases.

“It is a great concern to see the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea, a country that has already suffered so much from the disease. However, health teams in Guinea are on their way to quickly go on the expertise and experience built up during the previous outbreaks. track the virus’ path and slow down further infections, “said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement.

“WHO supports the authorities in setting up test, contact tracing and treatment structures and bringing the overall response to full speed.”

In a tweet, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “#Guinea has many years of experience in fighting #Ebola, with skilled event leaders and vaccinators … The government is taking action. One of the first steps will be to ensure that society understands the risks and wants to participate in response. Their role is crucial. “

Countries in West Africa are on high alert and Nigeria says it is monitoring the situation and will issue a public health advisory to address concerns in Africa’s most populous nation.

Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects humans and non-human primates such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, is a serious disease that first spreads from wild animals to humans. Humans can be infected by other people if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected people. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example by slaughtering infected animals.

On average, approx. 50% of people who become ill with Ebola, although this has varied from 25% to 90% in previous outbreaks, According to the WHO.
New Ebola cases have also been reported this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On 7 February, the WHO announced a new case Ebola and Butembo, located in the northern province of Kivu. The WHO Regional Office for Africa said on Saturday that a third Ebola case had been confirmed in the town of Katawa near Butembo.

The health agency said it is working with partners to provide important medical supplies to support local health authorities. Vaccinations also began in the region on Monday.

The DRC has so far been exposed to several Ebola outbreaks. In June 2020, the DRC reported its eleventh Ebola outbreak. A total of 130 confirmed and probable cases were reported as well as 55 deaths.

CNN’s Maria Fleet, Mia Alberti, Meera Senthilingam, Sharon Braithwaite and Nimi Princewill contributed to this report.

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