The international charity, Medical Corps has warned that the new hot spots on the coastal border region are demoralizing for all countries, particularly as Liberia, on the opposite border, was declared Ebola free on 9 May. However, the U.S. Government has cautioned the Liberian government to take measures that would prevent the resurgence of the Ebola disease.
“It feels like we are back to square one. The world has moved on, but it is still a very real problem here. With Liberia Ebola free, we thought we were not far behind, but that isn’t the case,” said a spokesman. “Guinea is a problem and as long as Guinea has Ebola, Sierra Leone will continue to struggle. The border is meaningless, with families straddling both countries,” he added. The Red Cross in Guinea said there were 16 new cases in the past week in six prefectures, four of them on the border with Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, there have been cases in Kambia, the coastal district bordering Guinea, Port Loko, a district to the south, and Freetown.
A spokesman for the charity said in the last two months the virus had moved from the country’s forested areas to lower Guinea for the first time, with communities expressing the fear and denial seen during the 18-month battle against Ebola elsewhere in the region. There have also been several reported incidents of violence directed at field staff during the last week, the WHO has said. A summit between the two countries’ presidents last Friday identified surveillance of border trade and traffic as one of their biggest challenges.
Some of the new cases have only been diagnosed after postmortem testing, making contact tracing of relatives and friends who have been in touch with the victim challenging. Alarmingly, one of the cases was a stillborn child, born to a woman who had survived Ebola and was carrying antibodies. “Deaths in the community, postmortem diagnosis and new cases without links to old ones all indicate there are undetected chains of transmission present in the country,” said International SOS.