In Brief: Ebola outbreak declared in Guinea

An Ebola treatment unit in Nzérékoré, Guinea. Photo by: Martine Perret / UNMEER / CC BY-ND

Guinea declared an outbreak of Ebola on Sunday, after three people tested positive for the disease. The outbreak was traced back to a nurse who died at a health facility on Jan. 28. The country's ministry of health reported that seven people who attended her funeral developed Ebola-like symptoms, and three have died, however a subsequent statement issued by the World Health Organization said that six people who attended her funeral developed Ebola-like symptoms, two have died and the other four have been hospitalized.

This announcement comes only a week after a case of Ebola was identified in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which now has four confirmed cases. The African continent was declared Ebola-free in November.

Why it matters: This is the first resurgence of Ebola in West Africa since the 2014-2016 outbreak — the world’s largest outbreak of the disease, that led to over 11,000 deaths. An Ebola outbreak will put additional strain on resource-stretched health systems already fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as yellow fever and measles outbreaks. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, tweeted on Sunday that she is “very concerned” about the new cases.

What’s next: In a press release, WHO said that Guinea is now using its expertise in areas including contact-tracing, which were developed during the massive West Africa outbreak to respond to these new cases. The tools available to responders to tackle the disease have also improved. WHO is working with Guinea to procure a vaccine, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October. These new cases of Ebola are in the Nzérékoré region of Guinea — a border area where the previous outbreak emerged. WHO said that it is working with neighboring countries, to improve surveillance efforts.  

About the author

  • Sara Jerving

    Sara Jerving is a global health reporter based in Nairobi. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vice News, and Bloomberg News, among others. Sara holds a master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was a Lorana Sullivan fellow. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2018, part of a Vice News Tonight on HBO team that received an Emmy nomination in 2018 and received the Philip Greer Memorial Award from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2014. She has reported from over a dozen countries.