Guinea: MSF remains vigilant in Ebola outbreaks in Guinea and Liberia

Conakry, May 2 - Although recent days have seen fewer Ebola patients in the structures in Guinea - run by Médecins Sans Frontières in collaboration with the Ministry of Health - the outbreak is not over and full teams remain in place to deal with a spike in new cases.

“We remain vigilant and cannot say that the outbreak is over, as we continue to see new confirmed patients and are continuing to provide care for the patients who remain in treatment centres” said Marc Poncin emergency coordinator for MSF in Guinea. “Tracing the people who have had contact with known patients remains a key ongoing task.”

Close collaboration
Bringing an Ebola outbreak under control requires close collaboration with the affected populations, which can be challenging. “We have to remember that this is a new disease for Guineans, and that there remains significant fear and stigma associated with it,” said Armand Sprecher, the project’s medical coordinator and an Ebola expert.

“We understand this fear, and have seen it in previous outbreaks in other countries. More work by all the actors involved in the epidemic is still needed to ensure that populations affected have the correct information, and seek prompt medical attention.”

Confirmed case in the capital
As of Thursday 1 May , there was one Ebola-confirmed patient in the centre in the Guinean capital Conakry, three in the centre in Guekedou in the southeast and none in the MSF-run facility in Macenta, also in the southeast.

“We continue to see new patients on Conakry and Guekedou, and this is where we will be focusing our support to the Ministry of Health in its work to end the outbreak in in the weeks to come,” said Poncin.

National and international teams on standby
An Ebola outbreak is not officially declared over until 42 days have passed without any new cases. In Macenta, one of the three Ebola treatment centres run by MSF, the national and international team has been put on standby. They will monitor the situation and return if there are any new cases.

In Liberia, no new cases have been reported in just over three weeks but teams remain in place to support the Liberian Ministry of Health should there be a need. According to the Guinean Ministry of Health, there have been 121 confirmed cases of Ebola since the outbreak began, of which 74 people have died.