US warns of Ebola threat after Africa outbreaks

Published February 17, 2021, 6:21 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

The United States on Tuesday warned that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the world “cannot afford to turn the other way” after cases of Ebola were confirmed in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(FILES) this file photo taken on August 16, 2014 shows a girl suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus having her temperature checked at the government hospital in Kenema. – Four people have died of Ebola in Guinea, the first resurgence of the haemorrhagic fever in the West African nation since a 2013-2016 epidemic left thousands dead, Health Minister Remy Lamah said on February 13, 2021. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP)

Five people have died of Ebola virus in Guinea — the first outbreak in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that left more than 11,300 people dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, in central Africa, has begun an Ebola vaccination drive after four cases, two of them fatal, surfaced just three months after the country’s last outbreak of the disease.

“Ebola has again emerged, simultaneously, in both Central and West Africa,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement, vowing the US would work with affected governments and the World Health Organization. 

“The world cannot afford to turn the other way.  We must do everything in our power to respond quickly, effectively,” she added.

Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.

The 2013-2016 epidemic began in Guinea in the same southeastern region where the new cases have been found.

The virus, believed to reside in bats, was first identified in 1976 in Zaire, now  DR Congo.