WHO: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 February 2021:
Health authorities in Guinea yesterday declared an outbreak of Ebola in the rural community of Gouéké in N’Zerekore prefecture after three Ebola cases were confirmed by the national laboratory, marking the first time the disease has been reported in the country since an outbreak ended in 2016.
Initial investigations found that a nurse from the local health facility died on the 28 January 2021. Following her burial, six people who attended the funeral reported Ebola-like symptoms and two of them have died, while the other four have been hospitalized.
Guinea was one of the three most-affected countries in the 2014–2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak which was the largest since the virus was first discovered in 1976.
“It’s a huge concern to see the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea, a country which has already suffered so much from the disease. However, banking on the expertise and experience built during the previous outbreak, health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.
“WHO is supporting the authorities to set up testing, contact-tracing and treatment structures and to bring the overall response to full speed.”
During the West African outbreak, WHO and partners supported Guinea to build up its capacity to respond to Ebola and the country has developed crucial expertise. Guinean health workers played a key role in supporting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with its recent outbreaks, with teams of vaccinators helping to train health workers in the DRC.
WHO staff are already on the ground. In addition to surveillance they will help with ramping up infection prevention and control of health facilities and other key locations and reaching out to communities to ensure they take a key role in the response.
WHO is also supporting the country to procure the Ebola vaccine which has proven instrumental in controlling outbreaks in the DRC.
Samples of the confirmed cases have been sent to the Institute Pasteur in Senegal for a full genome sequencing to identify the strain of the Ebola virus.
With the epicentre of the current outbreak in a border area, WHO is already working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to beef up community surveillance of cases in their border districts as well as strengthening their capacity to test for cases and conduct surveillance in health facilities. WHO is reaching out to Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal and other countries at risk in the sub-region.
During the West Africa Ebola outbreak there were 28 000 cases, including 11 000 deaths. The outbreak started in Guinea and then moved across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The first Ebola out break in Guinea in March 2014 was the most severe and complex cases, in the West African region. The first case of its kind. And patient zero was first diagnosed with this deadly virus in Guinea. It was the first case of its kind in the west African subregion.Ebola as a deadly disease, is always known to be a permanent residence in the DRC since its discovery in 1976. We should not allow it to have a permanent stay in West Africa. Twenty eight thousand people were infected in the three countries of the MANO river: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
By the time it was contained, it had killed eleven thousand people. Despite the deaths, and the early warning of the World Health Organisation, that the world should come together and fight it, the fact remains it kept claiming victims, until Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national flew to Dallas Texas, in September that year then the world and the Obama administration realised there is a problem and put the full weight of the government, working with the CDC to bring the disease under control in West Africa. Of course we were helped by our British partners to bring the disease under control in Sierra Leone. I know at the moment, the world’s governments have enough in their plates in fighting the Covid 19 pandemic.
The last thing in our wish list, is to open another front to fight another deadly virus. As always the case, its the poor and needy that pays the ultimate price. That is why I think the measures taken by the government, doesn’t go far enough. It has to be rebust, and worry about the consequences later. We need to restrict people’s freedom of movement. Especially people that attend family funerals. We don’t want another deadly pandemic disease in the form of Ebola let loose in our society. I don’t think other countries will come to our aid fast enough, and most importantly, our fragile health system will not cope.
This is really not good news.