GUINEA and the Democratic Republic of Congo are racing to contain fresh outbreaks of Ebola that have killed at least four people, amid fears the virus could spread across the region.
It is the first time Ebola has been detected in West Africa since the world’s worst outbreak in 2013-2016, which killed 11,300 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The world’s second-deadliest outbreak was declared over last year in Congo, which has also witnessed a resurgence this month.
The World Health Organization has warned that the latest cases pose a risk to other African nations and require exceptional vigilance.
Below is a timeline of the main developments:
June 1, 2020 – Congo announces its 11th outbreak of Ebola since 1976, with a cluster of cases detected in its northwest Equateur province.
Congo is simultaneously battling the 10th outbreak in the northeastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which started in August 2018.
June 25, 2020 – Congo declares an end to the 10th outbreak in the northeast, which was the second deadliest in the world, killing almost 2,300 people.
Nov 18, 2020 – Congo announces the 11th outbreak of Ebola in Equateur province is over, after just under six months.
Jan 28, 2021 – A nurse who is thought to been infected with Ebola dies in southeast Guinea’s Nzerekore prefecture, near the border with Liberia and Ivory Coast – its first resurgence since the deadly 2013-2016 outbreak.
Feb 1, 2021 – The nurse’s funeral takes place in Guinea and seven people who attend later report symptoms and test positive for Ebola.
Feb 7, 2021 – Congo announces a 12th outbreak of Ebola after a woman died in Butembo city in North Kivu Province.
Feb 14, 2021 – Guinea’s health ministry declares a new outbreak of Ebola after three people die and four fall ill after attending the nurse’s funeral on Feb. 1.
The WHO announces it is working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to beef up community surveillance of cases in border districts and strengthen testing capacity.
The WHO also reaches out to Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and other countries at risk in the sub-region.
Congo reports a fourth new case of Ebola in Butembo.
Feb 15, 2021 – Guinea’s Health Minister Remy Lamah says authorities are tracking down people who had contact with Ebola patients and will rush vaccines – the first of which won regulatory approval in 2019 – to the affected area.
Unlike during the 2013-2016 outbreak, Lamah said Guinea has the capacity to halt the virus’ resurgence due to improved treatments.
The WHO launches an Ebola vaccination campaign in Congo’s Butembo city. Health workers at Matanda health centre, where the first Ebola patient was treated, are first to be vaccinated.
Sources: Reuters, World Health Organization