BAMAKO/GENEVA (Reuters) - Mali is trying to trace at least 200 contacts linked to confirmed and probable Ebola victims in an effort to control its second Ebola outbreak, health officials said on Friday.
An initial batch of contacts linked to a 2-year-old from Guinea who died of Ebola last month were close to the end of their 21-day quarantine period when Mali confirmed its second case this week.
There have been at least four more suspected Ebola deaths, all linked to an imam who entered Mali from neighbouring Guinea and died late last month with Ebola-like symptoms that were not recognised.
Malian Health Ministry spokesman Marakatie Dow said a woman who had helped wash the imam’s body died on Thursday at the Gabriel Toure Hospital in Mali’s capital, Bamako.
Dow said an initial Ebola test result for the woman was positive, making her the fourth clinically confirmed Malian case, although further analysis would be carried out abroad.
“There are 200 contacts if we add those linked to the case of the woman yesterday,” Dow told Reuters.
Reuters journalists outside the Nenecarre mosque in Bamako’s Djikoroni Para neighbourhood, where the imam’s body was washed, said four health workers in protective gear entered the mosque to disinfect it but no effort was made to stop people from entering for Friday prayers.
A World Health Organization spokesman said more than 250 contacts were being traced across four locations.
These included the Pasteur Clinic where the imam was treated - not connected to the Institut Pasteur, a French-based institute specialising in infectious diseases - as well as a house in Bamako that he visited and the home of a nurse who treated him and died.
Mali is the sixth nation to have confirmed Ebola in West Africa, which is battling the world’s worst epidemic of the haemorrhagic fever. At least 5,160 people have been killed since it erupted in March.
Mali shares an 800-km (500-mile) border with Guinea, where the first case of Ebola in the region was reported.
In a sign of growing concern over the new wave of cases, the French government on Friday updated its website to advise against all but essential travel to Bamako and Kayes, the western region where the girl died.