CONAKRY, April 16 (Reuters) - Guinean authorities have confirmed at least nine new cases of Ebola in the southwest region of Forecariah near the border with Sierra Leone, the area hardest hit by the year-old outbreak, a senior health official said on Thursday.
Authorities launched a four day, door-to-door campaign in Forecariah on April 12 to improve community participation in reporting suspected cases and as part of an emergency 45-day drive to tackle Ebola in the west of the country.
Sakoba Keita, national coordinator for the fight against Ebola in the West African country, said authorities had also detected 10 suspicious deaths in the community but only one of these had been confirmed as Ebola.
Keita said 92 percent of households in Forecariah had been reached in the four day programme.
“We have been able to find nine sick people (with Ebola) hiding in Forecariah,” Keita told a news conference. “That discovery will allow us at least to stop the development of new chains of infection.”
The Ebola epidemic, which started deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea in December 2013, is believed to have killed more than 10,600 people and infected 25,791 in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In its latest weekly report on Wednesday, the WHO said a total of 37 confirmed cases had been reported in week to April 12, up from 30 the previous week.
Of those, 28 were recorded in Guinea, nine in Sierra Leone and none in Liberia.
The outbreak in Guinea is concentrated in the western area around the coastal capital Conakry. Forecariah lies on the main road south from Conakry to the border with Sierra Leone.
The WHO said that 17 confirmed Ebola cases had been detected in Forecariah in the week to April 12.
Keita said that community’s reluctance to curb traditional burial practices, which involve touching the dead, was the principal reason for the continued spread of the infectious virus. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)