Guinea Poised to Declare End of Ebola Outbreak 
Last Ebola patients leave a treatment centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of March, marking the countdown to declaring the end of the pandemic.

The government of Guinea is a few days away from declaring the end of the country’s Ebola outbreak after 45 days of reporting no new case, World Health Organization Officials said on Thursday. 

On 14 February, a new Ebola outbreak was declared in Guinea, but four months later, the outbreak will be declared over according to Guinea’s Health Minister Dr Remy Lama.

Speaking at a WHO AFRO press briefing on Thursday, Lama attributed the country’s ability to quickly control the outbreak to swift mobilisation to organise the response to the disease and break the transmission. 

“We made a huge adjustment to involve communities in this response, so that they would accept the proposed measures. We chose as a priority to involve communities,” Lama said.

Initial challenges regarding vaccine hesitancy were quickly resolved by actively engaging communities who became aware of the reasons behind the recommended lines of action, said Lama. 

The Republic of Guinea was one of the countries at the center of West Africa’s Ebola virus epidemic that raged from 2014-2016 claiming 11,000 lives.  The DRC faced a major outbreak in 2018, which concluded a year later, but has been followed by others. During the most recent DRC outbreak in February, 12 cases were confirmed leading to six deaths – while 1,737 people were vaccinated against the virus, according to the WHO – with IFRC teams on the ground providing key support.

In the case of Guinea, the outbreak declared on 14 February 2021 in the N’Zerekore region led to 14 confirmed cases, leaving five people dead.   However, the even more worrisome aspect of the current Guinea outbreak was its apparent source – a survivor of Guinea’s previous 2014-2016 outbreak who appears to have harbored the virus for as long as five years, before infecting someone else.

Lessons learned from the Ebola response have also better positioned the country to respond to COVID-19 considering engagement with its citizens has also been crucial in encouraging vaccine adoption. 

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso MoetiMoeti noted the overlap between responses to Ebola and COVID-19 and said both required political leadership, quick decision making and collaboration with various partners.

“All of this is valuable in both responding to pandemics, and in putting in place the kind of resilient health systems that we need so that next time there is a threat, we’re better positioned to respond and contain the outbreak,” Moeti said.

Image Credits: WHO African Region.

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