An Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has been called an “unprecedented epidemic” by Doctors Without Borders has spread to Guinea’s capital and forced mining companies in the area to lock down operations.
CNN reported on April 3 that 122 patients were suspected of contracting the virus and more than people have died because of the outbreak.
The pattern of infection, with patients found in the coastal capital of Conakry as well as villages in the country’s southern area, marks this outbreak as different, according to Mariano Lugli of Doctors Without Borders.
“We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases,” Lugli, coordinator of the organization’s project in Conakry, said in a statement. The group “has intervened in almost all reported Ebola outbreaks in recent years, but they were much more geographically contained and involved more remote locations.”
According to data from the UN's World Health Organization (WHO), five new suspected infections were reported on April 1, which brought the total to 134 in less than two months.
The outbreak of the deadly virus has been concentrated around the country's southeast, adjacent to Guinea’s lucrative iron ore reserves, forcing mining companies to take precautionary action.
"Everyone is practicing precautionary strict hygiene but there has been no real impact on production so far," a senior executive at a mining company told Reuters.
Vale has already removed its six international employees and put its local workers on leave.
The Ebola virus spreads by contact, and victims present symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and external bleeding. No cure or vaccine has yet been found for the disease.
The West African nation is also the world's top exporter of bauxite, the raw material used in aluminum production, and has rich deposits gold.
Guinea’s government has asked people not to eat monkeys, chimpanzees and bats and to avoid travel in the affected areas, while Senegal closed its southern border with Guinea. The WHO said it doesn’t recommend any restrictions on travel to or trade with Liberia or Guinea.
No cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, which shares borders with Guinea and Liberia near the worst affected area.