Guinea sees first Ebola deaths since 2016

Four people have died of Ebola in Guinea in the first resurgence of the disease in five years, the country’s health minister said Saturday.

Remy Lamah told AFP 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.

“Among those who took part in the burial, eight people showed symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding,” he said. 

“Three of them died and four others are in hospital.”

The four deaths from Ebola hemorrhagic 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.

Early 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 underway,” the tweet said, adding that WHO’s regional and country offices were “supporting readiness and response efforts.”

DR Congo has faced several outbreaks of the illness, with the WHO on Thursday confirming a resurgence three months after authorities declared the end of the country’s latest outbreak.

The country had declared that the six-month epidemic over in November. It was the country’s eleventh 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.

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