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Mali reports 2 new Ebola deaths in capital; not believed linked to earlier case

11/12/2014 08:21 EST | Updated 01/12/2015 05:59 EST
BAMAKO, Mali - Malian authorities on Wednesday reported two new deaths from Ebola that are not believed to be linked to the nation's only other known case, an alarming setback as Mali tries to limit the epidemic ravaging other countries in the region.

The announcement in this city of about 2 million came just a day after Malian health authorities said there had been no other reported cases — let alone deaths — after a 2-year-old girl who had travelled to Mali from Guinea succumbed to the virus in late October.

A nurse working at a clinic in the capital of Bamako died Tuesday, and tests later showed she had Ebola, Communications Minister Mahamadou Camara said Wednesday. A patient she had treated died on Monday and was later confirmed to have had the disease as well.

The patient — a Guinean national — came to the Clinique Pasteur on Oct. 25 late at night and was so ill he could not speak or give information about his symptoms, said the head of the clinic.

"His family did not give us all the information that would have led us to suspect Ebola," Dramane Maiga told The Associated Press.

Government health officials were slow to act, Maiga said. The nurse was hospitalized on Saturday and hospital officials did not call the health ministry until Monday morning. Health officials did not arrive at the clinic until 6 p.m. and by the time the test results came back, the 25-year-old nurse was already dead, said Maiga.

The new Ebola cases come just as public health officials started to think Mali had avoided the worst. The cases are stark reminders that the disease is hard to track and the entire West Africa region remains vulnerable as long as there are cases anywhere.

Nearly 5,000 people have died this year in the region from the virus, which first erupted in Guinea, on Mali's border.

Mali's first case initially caused alarm because officials said the toddler was bleeding from her nose as she travelled with relatives by public transport from Guinea to Mali, passing through Bamako and other towns en route to the western city of Kayes, where she died. Ebola is transmitted through the bodily fluids of people who are showing symptoms, which include bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea.

On Tuesday, officials said nearly 30 members of a family that was visited by the sick 2-year-old girl have been released from a 21-day quarantine after they showed no symptoms of the disease. Ebola can take up to 21 days to incubate.

About 50 other people who had possible contact with the girl remain under observation in Kayes, 375 miles (600 kilometres) from Bamako. They will be released from quarantine on Nov. 16 if they don't show symptoms.

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