An Ebola outbreak has been declared in the West African nation of Guinea after three people were reported dead from the virus.
At least four others from the country’s southeast are sick with Ebola after attending the funeral of a nurse in Goueke, near the Liberian border.
The nurse who had died from an unspecified illness was buried on February 1, National Health Security Agency chief Sakoba Keita told local media.
Seven people who attended the funeral, where people wash the dead, became infected with Ebola.
Among them were two women and a man who have since died.
Each had fallen ill with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding.
Guinea, which was where the world’s worst outbreak started in 2013 and continued until 2016, confirmed an epidemic on Monday morning (Australian time).
The four active cases are isolated in treatment centres.
“Faced with this situation and in accordance with international health regulations, the Guinean government declares an Ebola epidemic,” the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
The 2013 outbreak claimed 11,000 lives as it spread across West Africa, with the vast majority of cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Fighting Ebola again will place additional strain on health services in Guinea as they battle the coronavirus.
Guinea, a country of around 12 million, has so far recorded 14,895 coronavirus infections and 84 deaths.
“The government reassures the people that all measures are being taken to curb this epidemic as quickly as possible,” Guinea’s Health Ministry said in a Facebook post.
The Ebola virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through contact with body fluids.
It has a much higher death rate than COVID-19, but unlike coronavirus it is not transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.
It jumps to humans from animals like chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope as well as bushmeat and spreads between people via direct contact with blood, bodily fluids and organs or contaminated environments.
The ministry said health workers were working to trace and isolate the contacts of the Ebola cases and will open a treatment centre in Goueke, near Nzerekore.
The authorities have also asked the World Health Organisation for Ebola vaccines, it said. The new vaccines have greatly improved survival rates in recent years.
“WHO is ramping up readiness & response efforts to this potential resurgence of Ebola in West Africa, a region which suffered so much from Ebola in 2014,” the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday reported a fourth new case of Ebola in North Kivu province where a resurgence of the virus was announced on February 7.