GUINEA – The Ebola outbreak that emerged in Guinea in mid-February has been declared over. This was the first time the disease resurfaced in the country since the deadly outbreak in West Africa that ended in 2016.
Guinean health authorities declared the outbreak on 14 February 2021 after three cases were detected in a rural community in the southern prefecture, the same region where the 2014–2016 outbreak first emerged before spreading into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone and beyond.
A total of 16 confirmed and seven probable cases were reported in Guinea’s latest outbreak in which 11 patients survived and 12 lives got lost.
Shortly after the infections were detected, national health authorities, with support from World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, mounted a swift response, tapping into the expertise gained in fighting recent outbreaks both in Guinea and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
WHO helped ship around 24,000 Ebola vaccine doses and supported the vaccination of nearly 11,000 people at high risk, including over 2800 frontline workers.
More than 100 WHO experts were on the ground coordinating key aspects of the response such as infection prevention and control, disease surveillance, testing, vaccination and treatment using new drugs.
Collaboration with communities was also enhanced to raise awareness about the virus and ensure their involvement and ownership of the efforts to curb the disease.
“I commend the affected communities, the government and people of Guinea, health workers, partners and everyone else whose dedicated efforts made it possible to contain this Ebola outbreak,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
He also said WHOs work in Guinea will continue, including efforts to support survivors’ access post-illness care.
In support of the government’s efforts to curb the outbreak, WHO worked with other United Nations agencies and partners such as the African Development Bank, Alliance for International Medical Action, African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, World Bank and World Food Program.
According to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, new innovations and lessons learnt from the previous outbreak in West Africa which claimed 11,000 lives, have assisted Guinea to contain the virus is such a short period.
“We are getting faster, better and smarter at fighting Ebola. But while this outbreak is over, we must stay alert for a possible resurgence and ensure the expertise in Ebola expands to other health threats such as COVID-19,” Dr. Moeti added.
WHO continues to support Guinea in its efforts to remain vigilant, maintain surveillance and build capacity to respond quickly to a possible resurgence of the virus.
An Ebola laboratory, treatment infrastructure, logistics capacity and infection prevention measures have been reinforced to better respond to the disease as well as other health emergencies.
While the latest Ebola outbreak was limited to Guinea, to prevent cross-border infections, WHO supported six of the country’s neighbors to ramp up preparedness measures, including stepping up surveillance and screening at border crossings and within high-risk communities, as well as enhancing coordination between governments and the respective health services.