Guinea is fighting a new outbreak of Ebola, health officials in the West African nation said on Sunday, with at least three deaths in a region that was previously the starting point for the worst ever epidemic of the disease.
The three who died — two women and a man — were among seven people who fell ill with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding after attending the burial of a nurse in the country’s southeast on Feb. 1, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Officials confirmed an epidemic on Sunday after a laboratory found the virus in the first three samples it tested from the patients.
“The government reassures the people that all measures are being taken to curb this epidemic as quickly as possible,” Guinea’s Health Ministry said on Sunday in a Facebook post, adding that people should report any further symptoms to the health authorities and respect hygiene and prevention measures. It also said it would accelerate delivery of vaccines to the region and open a center to deal with detected cases.
Guinea had not seen an Ebola case since 2016, when it came to the end of an epidemic that began in its southeastern region in 2014. That outbreak, the deadliest so far, spread through neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone, eventually infecting more than 28,000 people in 10 countries and killing more than 11,000.
The resurgence comes as West Africa is still grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and after the Democratic Republic of Congo also found new cases of Ebola, three months after health officials said they had eradicated Congo’s last outbreak.
Dr. Mashidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said Sunday on Twitter that she was “very concerned” by the reports from Guinea and that the agency was “ramping up readiness and response efforts to this potential resurgence.”
Spread through contact with an infected or recently deceased person’s bodily fluids or secretions, the Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever with an average fatality rate of about half, though two vaccines are now available against it.
“We are going to rapidly deploy crucial assets to help Guinea,” said Dr. Georges Alfred Ki-Zerbo, a representative for the World Health Organization, the news agency Agence France-Presse reported, adding that the group was in contact with the manufacturer of a vaccine to deliver doses and fight the outbreak.
“The arsenal is stronger now, and we will take advantage of that to contain this situation as fast as possible,” Dr. Ki-Zerbo said.
Anna Holland contributed reporting.