CONAKRY-KINSHASA, 14 February 2021 – Officials in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo have confirmed a new Ebola outbreak in their countries.

Guinean officials on Saturday declared that they are dealing with an Ebola epidemic after at least three people were confirmed to have been killed by the virus.

Health officials in DR Congo confirmed a third case of Ebola in the eastern North Kivu province, where the two earlier cases were detected.

Red Cross Workers Serve as Undertakers - Photo AFP Pascal Guyot, Getty Images

Red Cross Workers Serve as Undertakers – Photo AFP Pascal Guyot, Getty Images

Outbreak in DR Congo - Photo Al Jazeera

Undertakers Ahead of Burial of the last Outbreak in DR Congo – Photo Al Jazeera

 

Four people infected with the virus in Guinea showed all the symptoms of Ebola: diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding after attending the burial of a nurse.

The nurse is considered Guinea’s “Patient 001”.

She was employed at a health center in Goueke, near the southeastern Guinean town of Nzerekore, who died last January 28 and was laid to rest last February 1.

Ebola Outbreak in Guinea - Photo Bitlanders

Ebola Outbreak in Guinea – Photo Bitlanders

The mortal remains of Ebola victims are particularly toxic and failure to allow well-protected undertakers to handle funerals was a major reason of the wild outbreak in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

Over 11,000 people died from that outbreak – the worst West African Ebola Epidemic every – which began in Guinea and quickly spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The current outbreak in Guinea is occurring in roughly the same area where the epidemic began in December 2013.

Liberian President George Weah on Saturday said he had put the country’s entire health system in heightened alert.

In both DR Congo and Guinea, officials on Sunday said they have reinvigorated their contact tracing programs to find and isolate all persons who might have been in contact with those infected with the virus.

Following a crisis meeting in the Guinea capital, Conakry, on Sunday, the country’s health ministry said infected persons – all aged below 25 – have been identified and isolated.

Earlier Ebola Outbreaks in DR Congo - Photo The Lancet

Earlier Ebola Outbreaks in DR Congo – Photo The Lancet

A treatment center has also been set up in Goueke, public health officials in Conakry said Sunday

Guinea and DR Congo said Sunday they are in contact with the World Health Organization (WHO), seeking to acquire vaccines ahead of inoculation campaigns planned in the two countries.

“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,” said Alfred George Ki-Zerbo, the WHO representative in Guinea, cited Sunday by the French News Agency (AFP).

Since that outbreak, medicine has made a lot of progress, developing a vaccine as well as drugs that have been credited with increasing the survival rate of patients infected with the virus.

Up to half a million doses of the Ebola vaccine are available and could be immediately made available to the two countries currently hit.

This is the 12th outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo..

Mural on Ebola - Photo The Conversation

Mural on Ebola – Photo The Conversation

The Ebola outbreak adds to the challenge of curbing the new coronavirus which so far has been detected in 14,895 people in Guinea with 84 fatalities and 14,453 full recoveries.

DR Congo has so far recorded 23,771 cases of COVID-19 with 684 deaths and 15,151 full recoveries, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University.

How Does Ebola Spread?

The Ebola virus is believed to spread to humans from infected animals such as chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.

WHO says bushmeat – non-domesticated forest animals hunted for human consumption – is believed to be the natural reservoir of the Ebola virus.

Source: WHO

Source: World Health Organization

The virus then spreads from human to human through direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

What is Ebola?

The Ebola virus initially causes fever in persons infected with it.

The patients then experience intense weakness, muscle pain and sore throat.

It is then followed by vomiting, diarrhea and both internal and external bleeding.

Word Health Organization experts say most Ebola victims tend to suffer and die from acute dehydration and multiple organ failure.

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