The World Health Organisation (WHO) has alerted six African countries to be watchful as Ebola virus claimed five lives in Guinea with 10 new suspected cases.
According to Guinea’s ministry of health, it has identified 115 contacts of the known cases in the city of Nzerekore in the country’s south east and 10 in the capital Conakry since the outbreak was confirmed on Sunday.
Unlike the deadliest known outbreak, which tore through West Africa from 2013-16, Guinean authorities have said they are better prepared to stop the spread of the virus.
The 2013-16 outbreak killed 11,300 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“We have already alerted the six countries around, including Sierra Leone and Liberia, and they are moving very fast to prepare and be ready and to look for any potential infection,” the WHO’s Margaret Harris told a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
Guinea’s neighbours include Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Meanwhile, after Gene sequencing of Ebola samples, Congo has confirmed that its latest cases are not linked to a new Ebola variant but represent a resurgence of its tenth outbreak, the second-largest on record that caused more than 2,200 deaths in 2018-2020.
Further spread of the disease could cripple the regions’ poor nations who are also battling the coronavirus pandemic. Ivory Coast, Mali and Sierra Leone have launched plans to stop any potential spread and reinforced border controls.
The Ebola virus can cause severe bleeding and organ failure and is spread through contact with body fluids. It has a much higher death rate than COVID-19, but unlike the coronavirus it is not transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.