Senior UN official travels to Guinea Bissau after new Ebola cases reported in bordering Guinea

Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Peter Graaff (right) arrives in Guinea-Bissau after new cases were reported near the border with Guinea. Photo: UNMEER

24 June 2015 – The head of the United Nations mission for Ebola response has begun a visit to take stock of prevention and preparedness efforts in Guinea Bissau, which remains at high risk given its proximity to Guinea where new cases of the virus were reported in an urban area bordering the two countries.

To date, no confirmed cases of Ebola disease has been reported in Guinea-Bissau.

Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Peter Graaff, met with Guinea-Bissau’s Prime Minister, Domingo Simoes Pereira, and also with Minister of Health Valentina Mendes, to discuss preparedness measures.

Mr. Graaff is on a two-day official visit to “to take stock of the current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) prevention and preparedness efforts in the country and see with government how the UN can further mobilize support,” according to a press release from UNMEER.

In addition to meeting with top Guinea-Bissau officials and partners, the UN envoy plans to visit the EVD isolation and treatment site at the Simao Mendes National Hospital in Bissau.

“He will also travel to Contabane border post with Guinea Conakry,” UNMEER said, adding that “the country remains at high risk given its proximity to Guinea, and the recent new cases in the Guinean Prefecture of Boké, bordering Guinea-Bissau.”

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest update, there were 20 confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease reported in the week to 21 June, compared with 24 cases the previous week.

“Weekly case incidence has stalled at between 20 and 27 cases since the end of May, whilst cases continue to arise from unknown sources of infection, and to be detected only after post-mortem testing of community deaths,” the update said.

Regarding Guinea, it noted that “although cases have been reported from the same four prefectures in Guinea for the past 3 weeks, the area of active transmission within those prefectures has changed, and in several instances has expanded.”

WHO reported that in the northern prefecture of Boke, the main focus of transmission has switched from the coastal sub-prefecture of Kamsar to the more urbanized sub-prefecture of Boke Centre and “of particular concern, two of the cases reported from Boke in the week to 21 June were health workers.”

Compared with Guinea, transmission in Sierra Leone has been more geographically confined over the past three weeks, WHO said.

In Guinea-Bissau, UN agencies have joined hands with international and national partners to strongly advocate and support leadership, coordination and action for rapid establishment of the necessary national EVD preparedness and response components.

There have been 27,443 confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with 11,207 reported deaths, according to WHO. The outbreak in Liberia was declared over on 9 May.

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