Guinea Ebola Death Toll Rises to Four


Conakry, Feb 15 (AFP/APP): A fourth Guinean Ebola patient died on Monday, the state’s health agency said, as the government and aid groups began to roll out their response to the outbreak.

Guinea announced a new outbreak of the deadly virus on Saturday — the first in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that left more than 11,300 dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There was initial confusion over the number of fatalities, but the deputy director-general of Guinea’s health agency, Bouna Yattassaye, told AFP that four people had now died.

“We recorded one death this morning,” he said.

The first confirmed victim was a 51-year-old nurse, who died in late January. She was from Nzerekore, near the town of Gouecke, in the forested south of the country. Two of the nurse’s brothers who attended her funeral on February 1 have also died, according to a Guinean health official who requested anonymity. Yattassaye said that the fourth fatality is an elderly woman, but did not offer further details. Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.

An NGO official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said that he was concerned because health workers have not yet identified who infected the nurse. He added that of the nurse’s husband, who is in hospital in Guinea’s capital Conakry, travelled to the city under unclear circumstances, raising the possibility of undetected infections. But Alfred George Ki-Zerbo, the World Health Organization’s representative in Guinea, said on Monday that Ebola vaccines could arrive in the poor nation of 13 million “within 72 hours”.

“Our priority is to complete the risk assessment on the ground and to analyse the cross-border dimension,” he said, referring to the area near the Liberian border where the virus re-emerged. Guinea’s health agency is also increasing its capacity in the area.

Anja Wolz, the Ebola coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said the NGO is sending an experienced medical team to meet local people and explain the need to follow health rules.

“We know that when such a frightening disease is misunderstood in the community, and individuals suddenly arrive giving instructions, in costumes resembling spacesuits, it can easily generate a hostile reaction,” she said.

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