YAOUNDE, Cameroon

An Ebola vaccination campaign in Guinea kicked off Tuesday, nine days after an outbreak was declared, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

High-risk individuals began to be vaccinated 24 hours after Guinea received 11,000 doses of the vaccine sent by the WHO.

The campaign was launched in Gouecke, a rural community in N’Zerekore prefecture where the first cases were detected Feb. 14.

“The last time Guinea faced an Ebola outbreak, vaccines were still being developed,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“With the experience and expertise it has built up, combined with safe and effective vaccines, Guinea has the tools and the know-how to respond to this outbreak,” he said. “The WHO is proud to support the government to engage and empower communities, to protect health and other frontline workers, to save lives and provide high-quality care.”

The WHO said last week that more than 100 workers were expected to be part of the Ebola response team in Guinea by the end of February.

A new outbreak was declared in the West African country where eight cases were recorded, along with five deaths and 380 contacts of which 98% are being monitored, according to the UN health agency.

“The speed with which Guinea has managed to start up vaccination efforts is remarkable and is largely thanks to the enormous contribution its experts have made to the recent Ebola outbreaks in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo],” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.

“Africans supporting fellow Africans to respond to one of the most dangerous diseases on the planet is a testament to the emergency response capacity we have built over the years on the continent,” said Moeti.

Earlier this month, authorities in the DRC announced the reappearance of Ebola, a tropical fever that is transmitted to humans from wild animals, in the eastern part of the Central African country, more than two months after the end of the last outbreak.

First discovered in 1976, the disease caused global alarm in 2014 when the world’s worst outbreak began in West Africa, killing more than 11,000 people and infecting an estimated 28,600 as it swept through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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