Health officials in the southeastern N’Zerekore district said seven people who attended the funeral of a nurse tested positive for the disease and experienced symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Three of them died following the February 1 funeral. It is unclear if the nurse, who worked at the local health center, died from Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has pledged support for Guinea, helping to procure the Ebola vaccine which has helped control recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its teams are already on the ground also helping to ensure infection prevention and control in health facilities and other key locations as well as reaching out to communities.
An Ebola treatment center will also be opened in the Gouecke region of N’Zerekore, where the outbreak was declared.
The Red Cross said in a statement that a network of more than 700 trained volunteers has been “activated as part of a first wave of response and the government has called on people to respect hygiene and prevention measures and to report signs of the disease to health authorities.”
The world’s largest Ebola outbreak to date started in 2014 in Guinea and continued to 2016, spreading into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 28,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 of them died.
The current outbreak has again started in a border area of Guinea and the WHO says it is working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to increase surveillance in border districts as well as improving the capacity to test for cases.
“WHO is supporting the authorities to set up testing, contact-tracing and treatment structures and to bring the overall response to full speed.”
Countries in West Africa are on high alert and Nigeria says it is monitoring the situation and will issue a public health advisory to address concerns in Africa’s most populous nation.
Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, is a severe disease that first spreads from wild animals to humans. Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.
The health agency said it is working with partners to provide essential medical supplies to support local health authorities. Vaccinations also commenced in the region on Monday.
The DRC has faced several outbreaks of Ebola to date. In June 2020, DRC reported its eleventh Ebola outbreak. A total of 130 confirmed and probable cases were reported, as well as 55 deaths.
CNN’s Maria Fleet, Mia Alberti, Meera Senthilingam, Sharon Braithwaite and Nimi Princewill contributed to this report.