The West African ebola epidemic terrified the world back in 2013. After 11,000 deaths, it began to settle down in 2016, but it made another appearance barely two weeks ago, Minister of Health Remy Lamah confirms.
The ebola virus affects and spreads between humans as well as animals, and is caused by direct contact with contaminated bodily fluids or indirectly through shared environments. It causes severe dehydration and organ failure, making it incredibly deadly.
Guinea has struggled to fight the COVID-19 pandemic along with severe poverty and famine in certain parts of the country, and this resurgence in ebola is not a good sign. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, the medical director for ebola vaccines during a previous surge, describes the situation as “very concerning for what it could do for the people, the economy, the health infrastructure.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently working to increase ebola vaccine distribution. “The WHO is on full alert and is in contact with the manufacturer [of a vaccine] to ensure the necessary doses are made available as quickly as possible to help fight back,” reports Guinea’s WHO representative Alfred George Ki-Zerbo. WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, adds that “health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections.”
The new outbreak appears to have been instigated by a funeral for a Guinean nurse on February 1, 2021. Though her cause of death is unknown, seven funeral guests showed symptoms of ebola and three died.
Guinea’s government officials have set a goal of containing the virus in six weeks’ time and declared the outbreak an epidemic on Sunday, February 14. “Together, we will win!” Lamah declared.