Ebola has likely killed five people in Guinea after re-emerging in the country’s south, health authorities said on Tuesday, confirming two more deaths registered in recent days.
“Since the re-emergence of the disease, we have recorded five deaths, three probable and two confirmed,” said Fode Tass Sylla, spokesperson for the government’s Ebola response unit.
The three probable deaths were people who were buried before they could be tested, Sylla said, adding that 961 people may have come into contact with the victims and would now undergo monitoring.
Ebola was suspected in the case of a married couple who died in the rural southern village of Koropara, the wife in late February and the husband in early March, authorities had said last week.
This was followed by the deaths of a second wife of the same man and an 8-year-old girl at an Ebola treatment centre after health officials were alerted to the presence of the disease.
In addition, a man who tested positive for Ebola in the city of Nzerekore died on Monday, Sylla said.
A medical charity which reopened its specialist Ebola clinic in southern Guinea on Friday to treat the deceased girl and her mother was still caring for the woman, who had tested positive for the virus, the Alliance For International Medical Action (ALIMA) told AFP.
An investigation into the hundreds of people who may have acquired the disease from contact with Ebola victims was under way, focusing on “who came to [victims’] burials, who paid them visits, who washed the bodies,” Sylla added.
The World Health Organisation said on Friday Guinean health officials had alerted it to Ebola symptoms in the family’s village on March 16.
On Thursday the UN health body was already warning that a recurrence of the deadly virus – which has claimed 11 300 lives since December 2013 – remained a possibility.
The Guinean government said a quarantined area around the family’s home would be established, and announced a door-to-door search for other potential Ebola cases in the district.
The village is in the same region where the first Ebola case of the current outbreak was registered in December 2013.
Guinea was declared free of Ebola transmission at the end of last year, though a significant number of deaths are believed to have gone unreported and “flare-ups” relating to the persistence of the virus in survivors bodies poses ongoing challenges.