Guinea to Receive Ebola Shots to Quell New Outbreak by April

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Guinea, which aims to quell an Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in six weeks, will start vaccinating people in affected areas Monday.

The World Health Organization is sending a first batch of 11,500 vaccines, which will arrive in the West African nation Sunday, while a second consignment of 8,500 doses is being shipped from the United States, it said in an emailed statement Thursday.

Vaccinators will target 110 families exposed to Ebola cases, Sakoba Keita, the head of Guinea’s National Health Security Agency, told reporters in the capital Conakry. Medical staff will also get shots against a disease that killed 115 health workers during the last outbreak.

Teams will be deployed to the N’Zerekore region where the outbreak was declared on Feb. 14, and to Conakry. Guinea has recorded five Ebola-related deaths, while two cases are following treatment. It’s also monitoring 250 contacts, Keita said.

Guinea, the world’s largest bauxite exporter, was at the epicenter of the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic, which spread mainly to Liberia and Sierra Leone, infecting more than 45,000 people in West Africa and killing more than 11,000. The resurgence couldn’t have come at a worse time as the country grapples with the health and economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our collective, quick action is crucial to averting an uncontrolled spread of Ebola amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said in Thursday’s statement.

Guinean authorities are also expecting 400,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik coronavirus vaccines by the end of the month.

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