New Flare Up of Ebola Cases in Guinea Prompts Urgent Response
Amid a spate of new Ebola cases in Guinea – 27 in Boké, Dubreka and Forecariah in the week to 17 May compared to 7 the previous week – Ebola response partners organized an urgent mission to the region on 19 May to meet with local authorities and discuss a containment strategy.
The latest spike in Guinea brings the total number of new cases to 35 last week for Guinea and Sierra Leone, compared with 9 the previous week. These localized flare-ups, largely due to continued unsafe burial practices, have been experienced across the region as the epidemic nears the end, but each new one is being met with a robust response.
“We have come to reinforce the measures that have been put in place by the teams in Kamsar in order to very quickly put out this new flare up,” said Dr. Sakoba Keita, National Coordinator for the fight against Ebola in Guinea. “We have come with many partners - technical and financial - who will work with the local teams to identify the strategy that will be based essentially on the surveillance of contacts, the early detection of suspected cases, and of course, social mobilization.”
Leading the team of international partners, which included representatives from the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), World Health Organization, UNICEF, OCHA, USAID, the Center for Disease Control, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and others, Dr. Keita met with local leaders in Boké, the capital city of Boké Prefecture, near the border with Guinea-Bissau. Fears of Ebola spreading to the neighbouring country, which has yet to see any cases of the virus, were prompting the urgent response.
“We can’t tolerate any negligence,” said Dr. Jean-Marie Dangou, WHO Representative in Guinea. “The international community is here to support you…we are together.”
The team also visited Kamsar, a nearby port city with a significant bauxite mining industry, to which the impact of Ebola could have a damaging economic ripple effect throughout the region.
“We need the communities to help us not only find the real contacts, but also to help us identify suspected cases, and to control very quickly this new flare up,” said Keita. “We came to reassure them that they have our support at the very highest levels.”
With the rainy season currently underway in Guinea, partners are warning that Ebola response operations could be hampered. In parts of Guinea, local resistance to Ebola awareness efforts is also proving a challenge. A coordination office is set to be opened in Kamsar, which will support the coordination office in Boké, while international partners continue their support of training, awareness raising and surveillance activities in the hopes of containing the current outbreak.
“After so much push to get to zero cases, this new mini-outbreak is disappointing,” said Fatoumata Lejeune, UNMEER Spokesperson. “But we’re all keeping the faith, and taking the steps we need to make sure we deal with this as quickly as possible, and to help Guinea get on the path to recovery.”
In total, 26,763 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in the three most affected countries, with 11,074 deaths. However, Liberia was declared free of transmissions since 9 May and the race is on to rid both Guinea and Sierra of the virus.