Guinea has launched an Ebola vaccination campaign to halt the spread of the deadly disease which hit the country’s south this month and has already caused several deaths.
The vaccination drive got under way on Tuesday in Gouecke, in the N’Zerekore prefecture where the first cases were detected on February 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, adding that the launch started with the vaccination of health workers.
“The vaccination uses the ‘ring strategy’ where all people who have come into contact with a confirmed Ebola patient are given the vaccine, as well as frontline and health workers,” the WHO said in a statement on Tuesday.
Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.
It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for Ebola patients are most at risk.
The resurgence of the virus has alarmed governments in the region. A major outbreak could overwhelm health infrastructures already battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Guinea has recorded four confirmed and four probable cases – including five deaths – in the first resurgence of Ebola since the 2013-2016 outbreak that killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
During a ceremony outside a health centre in Gouecke, local government officials received jabs before a crowd of several dozen people.
A religious leader and preacher also encourage people to get immunised.
Guinea’s Health Minister Remy Lamah, who hails from the region, said he had spent the day trying to persuade local leaders to overcome their resistance to the vaccine.
“I think that in six weeks, we can be done with this disease,” Lamah told AFP news agency.