Infectious disease centre to fight Ebola launched
CONAKRY — Guinea launched a new infectious disease centre on Friday designed to safeguard the west African nation against a new resurgence in the Ebola virus, almost three years after the epidemic broke out.
Ebola’s “patient zero”, a two-year-old boy living in the forests of southern Guinea, fell ill in December 2013 potentially after contact with a fruit bat, scientists believe.
The new French-funded Institut Pasteur in Conakry will conduct research, train scientists and test for some of the world’s deadliest diseases, including Lassa fever, yellow fever and Rift Valley fever, all of which threaten Guinea’s population.
Guinea lacked the resources to combat Ebola as it ravaged the country until all active cases were declared over five months ago, including the means of testing the virus quickly to stop its spread.
Since then France in particular has poured money into ensuring Guinea, a former French colony, has adequate means to tackle deadly haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.
At a ceremony in Conakry, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the future centre a “symbol of solidarity”, following President Francois Hollande’s visit at the height of the epidemic in 2014.
It will begin operations in early 2017 but works to complete all the facilities are expected to take two years.
According to experts, 75 percent of infection diseases that affect humans originate from animal contact or animal products we consume.
The single case of the boy in the Guinean village went on to infect 28 000 people and kill more than 11 000, according to World Health Organization figures. — AFP