Guinea declares Ebola epidemic, neighboring countries act

FILE- In this Nov. 20, 2014 file photo, an MSF Ebola heath worker is sprayed as he leaves the contaminated zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Gueckedou, Guinea. Guinea has officially declared an Ebola epidemic Monday Feb. 15, 2021, after at least three people have died and others have been infected in the West African nation. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay-File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DAKAR – Guinea has officially declared it has an Ebola epidemic after at least three people have died and four others have been infected in the West African nation.

Neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia have put their citizens on high alert as the three West African nations battled the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak from 2014 to 2016, which began in Guinea and in which more than 11,300 people died.

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has flown to consult with Guinean President Alpha Conde.

Guinea's new Ebola outbreak occurred in N’Zerekore, in southern Guinea, where health officials detected suspicious cases of Ebola with patients presenting symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. The sick had participated in the burial of a nurse on Feb. 1 in Gouake, according to Guinea’s Minister of Health Remy Lamah, who added that the first investigation counted seven cases, all of people over the age of 25 years, including the two women and one male who have died.

“The government reassures the population that all measures are being taken to stem this epidemic as quickly as possible. It invites the populations of the affected areas to respect hygiene and prevention measures and to report to health authorities in the presence of suggestive signs,” Lamah said in the ministry statement.

The epidemic was declared after a crisis meeting Sunday. All suspected cases have been isolated in N’Zerekore and Conakry, the capital. Investigations have begun, a treatment center has opened and supplies have been sent to the region.

Traditional funerals in which people wash and touch the body of the deceased facilitate the spread of Ebola. It usually jumps to humans from infected animals, such as bats, and then spreads between humans via direct contact with bodily fluids.

Liberia’s president George Weah has mandated health authorities “to heighten the country’s epi-surveillance and preventative activities” and also ordered health officials to “immediately engage communities in towns and villages bordering Guinea and increase anti-Ebola measures.”