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Guinea Finds 9 New Ebola Cases Near Sierra Leone Border

FILE - A health worker prepares to inject a man with an Ebola vaccine in Conakry, Guinea, March 7, 2015.

FILE - A health worker prepares to inject a man with an Ebola vaccine in Conakry, Guinea, March 7, 2015.

Guinean authorities have confirmed at least nine new cases of Ebola in the southwest region of Forecariah near the border with Sierra Leone, the area hardest hit by the year-old outbreak, a senior health official said Thursday.

Authorities launched a four-day, door-to-door campaign in Forecariah on Sunday to try to improve community participation in reporting suspected cases and as part of an emergency 45-day drive to tackle Ebola in the west of the country.

Sakoba Keita, national coordinator for the fight against Ebola in the West African country, said authorities had also detected 10 suspicious deaths in the community but only one of these had been confirmed as Ebola.

Keita said 92 percent of households in Forecariah had been reached in the four-day program.

"We have been able to find nine sick people [with Ebola] hiding in Forecariah,'' Keita said at a news conference. "That discovery will allow us at least to stop the development of new chains of infection.''

The Ebola epidemic, which started deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea in December 2013, is believed to have killed more than 10,600 people and infected 25,791 in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization. In its latest weekly report Wednesday, the WHO said 37 confirmed cases had been reported in the week that ended Sunday, up from 30 the previous week. Of those, 28 were recorded in Guinea and the rest were in Sierra Leone.

The outbreak in Guinea is concentrated in the western area around the coastal capital, Conakry. Forecariah lies on the main road south from Conakry to the border with Sierra Leone.

The WHO said 17 confirmed Ebola cases had been detected in Forecariah in the week that ended Sunday. Keita said that community's reluctance to curb traditional burial practices, which involve touching the dead, was the principal reason for the continued spread of the infectious virus.