Guinea is confident it can end the latest Ebola epidemic to hit the country, according to the country’s Minister of Health Remy Lamah.
Guinea announced the outbreak on Saturday — the first in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that left more than 11,300 dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
According to an epidemiological report by the country’s health agency, five people have now died. Only one of the victims was confirmed positive for Ebola, with the remaining four listed as “probable cases”.
Lamah, who spoke to Reuters on Monday, said Guinea had the resources to stop the resurgence of the virus as opposed to the difficulties experienced during the 2013-2016 outbreak in the region, the deadliest which killed more than 11,000 people.
“In 2013, it took us months to understand that we were dealing with an Ebola epidemic, while this time, in less than four days, we were able to do analysis and have the results. Our medical teams are trained and seasoned. We have the means to quickly overcome this disease,” Lamah said.
Guinea’s new Ebola outbreak occurred in the south in N’Zerekore, where health officials detected suspicious cases of Ebola with patients presenting symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding.
The patients had taken part in the burial of a nurse at the beginning of the month in Gouake, according to Lamah.
“What worries us the most is the dangerousness of the disease given what we experienced five years ago. We do not want to relive such a situation,” Lamah added.
News of the resurgence of the virus also prompted neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia to put their citizens on high alert and activate emergency response systems and heightened surveillance.
The World Health Organization representative in Guinea, Georges Ki-Zerbo, said he requested permission to secure as many vaccines doses as possible.
Ki-Zerbo said there were some difficulties in distributing the vaccines to Guinea quickly, but authorities were coordinating to ensure the vaccines could be available by next week for a targeted vaccination campaign.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, the region of the second deadliest Ebola outbreak, has also reported four cases, however, the outbreaks in the two countries are not linked.
An Ebola vaccination in the vast central African country got underway at the beginning of the week with Ki-Zerbo stressing the need to involve local communities and listen to them.
“There is hope that with new tools and the experience and lessons learned, this could maybe work better this time.”