Forty-nine cases of people having been in contact with a young Guinean woman who tested positive for the Ebola virus in Abidjan, have been identified so far, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.
The young Guinean woman had left the town of Labé in Guinea last week to travel to the Ivorian economic capital, 1,500 km away.
“49 contacts on the way have already been recorded and also in the families at the point of departure in Labé,” said Georges Ki-Zerbo, a WHO expert at an online press briefing of the organization’s Africa branch.
“In Labé, 58 contacts have been identified,” Elhadj Mamadou Houdy Bah, the city’s regional health director, told AFP on Wednesday. “The good news is that they have not shown any signs for the moment. They are being well monitored,” he added.
An Ivorian doctor said 70 people were on board the bus in which the young woman traveled. “33 arrived in Abidjan, and the rest are scattered throughout Côte d’Ivoire,” he said. The bus stopped in Duékoué and Guezabo (West), as well as in the Ivorian administrative capital Yamoussoukro.
“A network has been established and we have been able to identify the communities in which these people live,” said the Ivorian Minister of Health, Pierre Demba, at the same press briefing.
“We have focused on health monitoring: informing all our health centers and community structures so that possible cases can be indicated and taken care of, which has led to the reporting of cases that turned out to be false,” he added.
Three suspected cases have been declared negative for Ebola, according to Ivorian health authorities.
Mr. Demba went on Wednesday to the border between his country and Guinea to “sensitize” health workers and communities “on cross-border exchanges” and the need for “reinforced surveillance”.
Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of WHO-Africa, praised the “remarkable solidarity” between Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire in the face of Ebola, and the “rapid reaction” of the Ivorian authorities.
Guinea, assisted by the WHO, delivered 5,000 doses of anti-Ebola vaccine to its neighbor two days after the August 14 announcement of the detection of the virus in the infected young woman, and vaccinations began Monday in Côte d’Ivoire.
Along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, Guinea had been hit hard from 2013 to 2016 by an Ebola epidemic that killed thousands. The virus reappeared there earlier this year.
Although Côte d’Ivoire shares borders with Guinea and Liberia, the country has not had a confirmed case of Ebola since 1994, when a scientist was infected during an outbreak in chimpanzees.