In response to an increase in new Ebola cases, Guinea's President Alpha Conde on March 28 declared a 45-day "health emergency" that calls for restrictions on movement, shuttering hospitals and clinics where new cases of the virus have been treated and new burial rules.
Guinea president declares 45-day Ebola 'emergency' in 5 regions
[The focus of the virus] has shifted to our country's coastal areas. Wherever the need may be, throughout this period, measures of restriction and confinement will be taken.
– Alpha Conde President, Guinea
Conde also warned, "Anyone who hides the sick or moves bodies from one locality to another will be prosecuted." The regions affected are Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia.
Guinea declares Ebola 'health emergency' in five regions
The news comes after a January report from the World Health Organization that said the virus was in decline in West Africa. But with Liberia and Sierra Leone also announcing new cases and implementing new public health measures, officials are concerned the the deadly virus is making a comeback.
WHO said on March 25 that 79 new cases of Ebola had been reported in the previous week, with Liberia reporting one patient after three weeks without a new case. The death toll reached 10,573 people out of a total of 25,516 cases reported since the outbreak began as of April 5.
Beatrice Yardolo, the last Ebola patient being treated in Liberia, was released from a treatment clinic March 5. More than 100 people were still being monitored for possible infection in the country. Liberia, which also reopened its schools after six months, will be designated as Ebola-free if it goes 42 days without a new infection.
We now have a time-limited window of opportunity to eliminate the virus, by April or May the rains will set in in West Africa, limiting our access and our ability to find cases and trace their contacts.
– Dr. Peter Salama UNICEF global Ebola emergency coordinator
Health officials warned in late January that cases continue to be underreported, with flare-ups in communities that are resistant to response measures. The Red Cross, which has deployed 6,000 volunteers in West Africa, said access and community cooperation remains a challenge.
Ebola has orphaned more than 12,000 children in Sierra Leone, according to the Ebola Orphan Report released March 4 by the British charity Street Child. The charity conducted a survey in all 14 districts of Sierra Leone between Jan. 13 and Jan. 27. The average age of orphans is nine years old.
A 9-month-old boy tested positive for Ebola on April 4 after dying in Sierra Leone's eastern district of Kailahun, the first infection reported in region in about four months. Kailahun, located on the border with Guinea, was the site of Sierra Leone's first infection in May 2014 and became a hotbed of Ebola in the country.
Sierra Leone's Kailahun district records first Ebola case in months
A study released in Dec. 2014 said that researchers who visited the village of the deceased "Patient Zero" found evidence that insect-eating bats that lived in a tree in the village may have been the transmission point of the outbreak into the human population.
Investigating the zoonotic origin of the West African Ebola epidemic | EMBO Mol Med
Ebola, for which there is no vaccine, kills between 25% and 90% of people who contract it, depending on the strain. It is transmitted via unprotected contact with the bodily fluids of symptomatic people or corpses. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Eight outbreaks have occurred since the virus was discovered in 1976.
Guinea confirms Ebola as source of deadly epidemic
WHO on April 15 issued updated guidance for people treated for Ebola, saying they should continue using condoms beyond the previously recommended 90 days, until it issues further guidance. The change comes after a man's semen was found to have traces of the virus after 90 days of treatment, though there is no formal evidence that Ebola can be transmitted sexually.