Amid Ebola Epidemic, WHO Delivers PPE for Guinea Health Workers

The geographic spread of cases so far, including in Conakry, the country's capital, makes this an unprecedented outbreak.

More than 3.5 tons of protective equipment and disinfection and secure burial material from the World Health Organization has arrived in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, to help the health workers who are responding to an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola. Eight cases have been reported in Conakry, half of them health workers; providing adequate training and necessary equipment is vital for infection control, according to WHO.

"These supplies are essential, as we were not able to be in contact with sick persons who could have Ebola. With protection equipment, we feel reassured and can do our job to help patients," said Dr. Lansana Kourouma, head of emergency section of the Chinese-Guinean Friendship hospital, where five patients are currently under observation.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières reported March 31 that Guinean health authorities have recorded 122 suspected patients and 78 deaths. Other cases, suspected or diagnosed, were found in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This is the Zaire strain of the virus, the most aggressive and deadly because it kills more than 90 percent of the infected patients.

"We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases in the country," said Mariano Lugli, coordinator of MSF's project in Conakry. By the end of this week, about 60 international field workers experienced with addressing hemorrhagic fever will be in place, divided between Conakry and in the southeast of the country -– including doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, water and sanitation experts, as well as anthropologists. MSF reported a total of more than 40 tons of equipment have been flown into the country to try to curb the spread of the disease.

"MSF has intervened in almost all reported Ebola outbreaks in recent years, but they were much more geographically contained and involved more remote locations," said Lugli. "This geographical spread is worrisome because it will greatly complicate the tasks of the organizations working to control the epidemic."

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