This Emergency Appeal seeks a total of some 8.5 million Swiss francs on a preliminary basis to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the National Societies of Guinea, to scale-up readiness and response to the ongoing epidemic; Cote D´Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to set-up advanced readiness and preparedness; and Senegal and Mali, to reinforce readiness capacity through light preparedness and prepositioning of stocks. The Appeal aims to deliver assistance to some 424,000 people in the affected area for 12 months, while supporting prevention actions in at-risk areas, comprising 7.52 million people. Other neighbouring countries, such as Guinea-Bissau, may be included following context developments. The emergency appeal will incorporate a Federation-wide approach, which will be based on one plan with response activities of all IFRC membership contributing to the response with an additional Federation-wide planning and reporting requirement.
The first confirmed case of EVD was reported in Guinea on 14 February 2021, with the origins of the outbreak currently unknown, and probable cases dating back to at least January. The known cases (seven as of 16 February 2021) are reportedly within the same family who attended the burial ceremony of a nurse from Gouécké health centre. The nurse died on 28 January 2021 and was buried on 1 February 2021. Of the seven cases, four are men and three are women (aged 25 and over), with three deaths (2 women and 1 man). The known outbreak is currently centred in Gouécké community in the N'Zérékoré prefecture in Guinée Forrestière Region. Gouécké is one of ten subprefectures that make up N'Zérékoré prefecture. It is located 42 kilometres from central N'Zérékoré with a total population of approximately 23,458 inhabitants in 3,364 households.
One of the suspected cases was transported to Conakry Hospital without isolation procedures, which raises concerns of possible nosocomial transmission and spread during transportation. While contact tracing and isolation of suspected cases are in place and are being scaled up, unidentified chains of transmission and contacts could pose risk of further spread. Prefectures most at risk for the moment include, Guékédou, Macenta, Lola, Yomou and Beyla, all part of Guinée Forrestière Region. In addition, there is significant cross-border movement, at official and unofficial border crossings, for trade, healthcare-seeking (traditional and clinical) and family links. Surveillance systems at the borders are still weak and not formalised, which could facilitate the spread of the virus. Traditional burial practices, including culturally important washing and handling of the body, was a key driver of transmission in the 2013-2016 epidemic and remains a risk today. The poor hygiene conditions and limited access to hand hygiene resources (water or sanitizer) are another risk factor to further spread the virus.
The 2014 –2016 epidemic in West Africa was the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. The deadly epidemic spread between countries, starting in Guinea Forest Region, then moving across the country and spreading across Sierra Leone and Liberia. Hence, the recent EVD outbreak is very concerning as it poses several risks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.