The seven patients fell ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding after attending a burial in Goueke sub-prefecture. Those still alive have been isolated in treatment centres, the health ministry said.
It was not clear if the person buried on Feb. 1 had also died of Ebola. She was a nurse at a local health centre who died from an unspecified illness after being transferred for treatment to Nzerekore, a city near the border with Liberia and Ivory Coast.
“Faced with this situation and in accordance with international health regulations, the Guinean government declares an Ebola epidemic,” the ministry said in a statement.
The 2013-2016 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa started in Nzerekore, whose proximity to busy borders hampered efforts to contain the virus. It went on to kill at least 11,300 people with the vast majority of cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Fighting Ebola again will place additional strain on health services in Guinea as they battle the coronavirus. Guinea, a country of around 12 million, has so far recorded 14,895 coronavirus infections and 84 deaths.
The Ebola virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through contact with body fluids. It has a much higher death rate than COVID-19, but unlike coronavirus it is not transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.
The ministry said health workers are working to trace and isolate the contacts of the Ebola cases and will open a treatment centre in Goueke, which is less than an hour’s drive from Nzerekore.
The authorities have also asked the World Health Organization (WHO) for Ebola vaccines, it said. The new vaccines have greatly improved survival rates in recent years.
“WHO is ramping up readiness & response efforts to this potential resurgence of #Ebola in West Africa, a region which suffered so much from Ebola in 2014,” the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said on Twitter.
The vaccines and improved treatments helped efforts to end the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record, which was declared over in Democratic Republic of Congo last June after nearly two years and more than 2,200 deaths.
But on Sunday, DRC reported a fourth new case of Ebola in North Kivu province where a resurgence of the virus was announced on Feb. 7.