The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned several African nations about possible Ebola infections after new cases were found in Guinea and DR Congo. The last major outbreak in the region killed more than 10,000 people.
“We have already alerted the six countries around [them], including of course Sierra Leone and Liberia, and they are moving very fast to prepare and be ready and to look for any potential infection,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said.
Guinea has borders with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
An Ebola outbreak was declared in the southern part of Guinea on Sunday – the first time the deadly disease has been recorded in the country since 2016.
Initial suspicions were raised after a nurse working at a local health facility died late last month. Six people who came to her funeral reported Ebola-like symptoms, and two of them have since died. The death toll from Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever virus, in Guinea grew to five by Tuesday.
UN experts and health officials are currently working in Guinea to manage the outbreak. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the global health body has launched efforts to ensure access to Ebola vaccines and treatments. The Guinean government, meanwhile, has banned large gatherings for a month to avoid the spread of the virus.
New cases were also reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a vaccination campaign was launched.
Ebola is transmitted via direct contact with the body fluids of someone who has the disease. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person can spread Ebola only after developing symptoms.
Death rates from the virus can vary from 25 percent to 90 percent, according to the WHO.
More than 28,600 people were infected with Ebola during the 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa, and 11,325 of them died, according to CDC data. It was the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
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