In a bid to curb the spread of Ebola, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde has declared a 45-day “health emergency” in five regions of the epidemic-hit nation. The chances of an Ebola-free West Africa remain uncertain.
In a statement published in Guinea’s national media on Saturday, Conde said the virus “has shifted to our country’s coastal areas” in Guinea’s west and southwest.
“That is why I am declaring a reinforced health emergency for a period of 45 days in the prefectures of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia,” the president said.
Food and medical supplies would be given to the affected communities, Conde added. The president did not specify, however, where or when the restrictions would take effect.
Conde’s announcement on Saturday came as Guinea continues to struggle in its fight against the Ebola virus.
In January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the epidemic was finally declining in West Africa after the three countries most affected – Sierre Leone, Liberia and Guinea – recorded a steady decrease in cases. In Guinea, however, efforts have often been hindered by violent resistance to health officials.
Also on Saturday, neighboring Liberia reported that a woman who became the country’s had died. Health officials also said two new suspected cases had been identified, halting the country’s plans to be Ebola-free by April.
WHO requires countries prove there are no new cases of Ebola reported for 42 days before it can be officially declared virus-free, because the incubation period is 21 days.
A day earlier, Sierra Leone began a new three-day nationwide lockdown sparked by fears that the virus was making a comeback in certain parts of the country.
Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013, more than 24,000 people in nine countries have been infected with the virus, of which over 10,000 have died.