(ORDO NEWS) — A patient who recently arrived from Guinea tested positive for Ebola, the Ivory Coast Ministry of Health (Côte d’Ivoire) confirmed, WHO said. The patient was hospitalized with a fever after arriving in Abidjan, the de facto capital and largest city of the country, earlier this week.
“It is of great concern that this outbreak was announced in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than four million people,” WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.
This is the first case in the country since 1994 in which an ethnologist contracted the virus after performing a necropsy of a sick chimpanzee. The Ivory Coast was unharmed during the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which originated in Guinea and claimed at least 11,325 lives, with cases reported in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Since then, many Ebola outbreaks have been reported, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which saw its fourth outbreak in less than three years in May. However, Guinea only reported its first outbreak since the epidemic in February this year, raising new concerns about a possible repeat of the 2014-2016 scenario. In March, WHO assessed the risk of an Ebola outbreak spreading to neighboring countries, including the Ivory Coast, as “very high”.
It is unclear whether the newly identified case can be traced back to the outbreak in Guinea, which was officially announced in June. WHO noted on Saturday that “there is no indication that the current case in Côte d’Ivoire is linked to an earlier outbreak in Guinea.”
As part of its efforts to contain the spread of the virus, WHO has said it will donate about 5,000 doses of Ebola vaccine, originally destined for Guinea, to Côte d’Ivoire. These vaccinations will be given to healthcare providers, first aid providers and known contacts of Ebola patients.
Noting that WHO will also send a team of experts to assist in contacting, treatment and community outreach, WHO stated that a travel ban should not be imposed and urged Côte d’Ivoire not to close its own borders.
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