A case of Ebola has been identified in Guinea’s capital city of Conakry, just days after a new outbreak was reported in the country. Guinea was one of the epicenters of the massive Ebola epidemic in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.
The outbreak was first reported in the Nzérékoré region. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa at the World Health Organization, said a symptomatic person visited several health facilities in the region and then traveled by taxi to Conakry.
Overall, there are eight confirmed and probable Ebola cases and six deaths in Guinea.
Why this matters: Cases of Ebola in densely populated urban areas have been game changers in previous outbreaks. When the virus hit the Liberian city of Monrovia during the West Africa epidemic, the outbreak spiraled out of control.
Similarly, there was significant concern about a large outbreak hitting Goma, a major transport hub, during the previous outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Guinea declared an outbreak of Ebola after three people tested positive for the disease. This is the first resurgence of Ebola in West Africa since the massive 2014-2016 outbreak, which led to over 11,000 deaths.
“It has traveled to a major city. There is risk there, but fortunately it was controlled early and captured and isolated, and contacts are traced already,” said Dr. Merawi Aragaw, incident manager for Ebola in DRC and Guinea at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that the infected person had 10 reported contacts.
Beyond concern over urban locations, the Nzérékoré region is a border transit area near Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d'Ivoire.
What’s next: WHO has allocated $1.25 million to the response in West Africa. More than 18,000 vaccine doses will be shipped to Guinea from the United States and Geneva, Moeti said.
While there is concern, health workers are also more prepared than in the past.
Mohamed Lamine Yansane, senior adviser to the health minister in Guinea, said: “This time, we are ready. There is a strong cooperation between the countries [affected].”