Guinea Government Confirms New Ebola Outbreak Near Liberian Border

The government of Guinea has confirmed a new Ebola outbreak in the southeastern city of Nzerekore, near the border with Liberia. Nzerekore was ground zero of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,300 people.

Guinea’s information minister, Amara Sompare, tells VOA that three people have already died out of seven confirmed cases.

He says the Guinean government has moved to isolate all suspected cases so health officials can investigate the origin of the virus and prevent its spread.

Sompare says the government has already sent investigators to Nzerekore and the nearby town of Goueke, near Liberia’s northeastern border. He adds the government has also put together a coordination committee with its technical partners, including the World Health Organization.

The Reuters news agency reported Sunday that the patients fell ill with diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding after attending a burial in Goueke sub-prefecture. Sompare said it was too early to say what sparked the new outbreak.

Most of the cases in the earlier outbreak, which ended in 2016, were found in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Fighting Ebola again will place additional strain on health services as Guinea battles the coronavirus pandemic. Guinea, a country of about 12 million people, has so far recorded nearly 15,000 infections and 84 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases globally.

In neighboring Liberia, President George Weah has put doctors on heightened alert for the deadly virus. But the country's chief medical officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, said Liberia currently does not intend to close formal border crossings with Guinea, fearing people would cross the porous border at other sites and the virus could enter undetected.

“It’s a normal decision from our neighbor,” Sompare told VOA. “In Africa, people move all over the borders because they have a lot of cultural and social activities together. So it is normal for the Liberian government to urge their medical staff and health system to be ready in case of any suspect person identified.”

Source: Voice of America