MS Risk Blog

Ebola Virus Death Toll Rises Above 200 in Guinea

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World health officials confirmed Wednesday that after a deadly spike in recent days, some 208 people have now died from the Ebola virus in Guinea.

World Health Organization (WHO) officials have reported that during the period between May 29 and June 1, at least 21 people died from the virus while 37 new cases of suspected Ebola were reported.  This brings the total number of cases in the West African country to 328.  Of these, 193 have been confirmed by laboratory tests.  Over this same period, three confirmed cases, and ten suspected cases, were recorded in neighbouring Sierra Leone.  Six people are believed to have died from the virus in Sierra Leone while ten have died in Liberia.

The latest spike in deaths in Guinea comes over a month after health officials in the country had reported a slow down in the spread of the deadly virus.  On 24 April, Guinea’s health ministry indicated in a statement that the situation was “more and more under control thanks to measures taken by the government and its partners.”  Officials are now reporting that more than half of the new deaths in Guinea occurred in the southern region of Gueckedou, which is where the outbreak is centred.  The region is located near the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone and is known for its weekly market, which attracts traders from the region as well as from neighbouring countries.  Medical charities are also reporting that one of the reasons behind the sudden increase in cases is that some people are refusing to go to hospital to seek treatment, and instead prefer to seek help from traditional healers.  While the Ebola virus can kill up to 90% of those infected, people have a better chance of surviving if the virus is identified early and they receive proper medical attention.

Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Doctors Without Borders charity are currently in the region, where about 600 people are under observation after having possible contact with the Ebola virus.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has prompted iron ore company London Mining, to announce that a number of its “non-essential” staff have left the country in wake of the Ebola threat.  Officials at the British firm have also reported that they have restricted some travel to the area, noting that production at its Marampa mine is unaffected.  The firm is currently working with local and international agencies in order to monitor the health of all its employees.  While the company is one of two large extraction companies in Sierra Leone, it is the first to reveal that staff members have left the region in light of the threat.