Even as they continue to fight the coronavirus pandemic, health officials in Guinea have declared an epidemic on Ebola. The numbers so far are small: After a nurse died of the disease in late January, seven people who attended her funeral have since been diagnosed, reports NPR. Three of them have died. “The government reassures the people that all measures are being taken to curb this epidemic as quickly as possible,” said an online post over the weekend from Guinea’s Health Ministry. A big reason for the concern is that the outbreak occurred in the same rural region where a devastating 2014-16 epidemic also began, notes the New York Times. Staff from the World Health Organization already are on the ground in Guinea, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2014-16 spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Before that earlier outbreak was contained, it spread to 10 nations and killed more than 11,000 people. As these new cases illustrate, funerals can serve as spreaders of the disease because the bodies of those infected are "particularly toxic," per the BBC. And it might take up to three weeks for symptoms to show. However, two reasons for optimism surround this new outbreak: It was discovered far earlier than the previous one, and vaccines have since been developed to combat the virus once it surfaces. Those should be arriving within days, per the Times. Meanwhile, two unrelated cases recently sprung up elsewhere in Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fight in Guinea comes as the nation of 13 million has reported about 15,000 cases of COVID and 85 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins stats. (Read more Ebola stories.)