Guinea declares 45-day Ebola health emergency

Residents’ movement to be restricted in five provinces in country’s west after new spike in recorded cases.

Following a dip in new Ebola cases in Guinea in January, they have spiked again since early March [File: AFP]

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde has announced new emergency measures enabling authorities to restrict movements in western Guinea where Ebola transmission continues a year after the epidemic was declared.

More than 10,300 people have died from Ebola in West Africa and while cases are thought to have peaked, Guinea is struggling to stamp out the virus partly due to often violent resistance to officials working to end it.

Following a dip in new cases in Guinea in January, they have spiked again since early March in and around the capital, prompting officials to announce a new phase of the epidemic.

“I declare in the districts of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia a reinforcement of emergency measures for a period of 45 days,” Conde said on state television late on Saturday.

“Wherever the need may be, throughout this period, measures of restriction and confinement will be taken,” he said in what would be a first for the country since the outbreak began.

Food and medical supplies would be given to the affected communities, Conde added. He not specify where or when such restrictions would take effect.

Medical staff infected

The Reuters news agency reported last week that three doctors in a Conakry hospital had been infected with the virus because of a lack of infection control in a sign that the lapses that fuelled the outbreak a year ago are dogging the final stages of the fight.

Since then, a further six medical staff across three clinics in western Guinea have been infected, including two doctors, according to a report written by France’s coordination team which provides technical assistance to Guinea on Ebola.

“Indefensible instances of negligence are showing up at the heart of our healthcare system,” Conde said. Centres where medical staff had caught the virus will be closed, he added.

The World Health Organization declared in January that the epidemic was finally declining in West Africa after Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – the three countries at the epicentre – recorded a steady drop in cases.

But renewed concern has been triggered by fresh setbacks in the worst-hit nations.

Sierra Leone on Friday began a new three-day nationwide lockdown sparked by fears that the virus was making a comeback in certain parts of the country and Liberia on Saturday announced the death of a woman who last week became the country’s first new Ebola patient in more than a month.

Source: News Agencies