Three more people in Guinea have been infected with the Ebola virus, a senior health official said on Wednesday, further dampening hopes of an imminent end to the world's worst recorded outbreak of the disease.
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The three were infected in Forecariah in western Guinea from the family of a woman who died of Ebola and whose body was handled without appropriate protection, said Fode Tass Sylla, spokesman for the national center for the fight against Ebola.
"In all, nine sick people are being treated at our centres throughout the country and most are connected to the dead woman," he told Reuters, adding that authorities had known of the three fresh cases since Saturday.
The epidemic began when a 2-year-old boy fell ill in a remote Guinean village on Dec. 26, 2013, and now risks dragging into a third year and into 2016.
It has killed around 11,300 people out of around 28,500 known cases in Guinea and neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to U.N. World Health Organization figures.
Liberia was declared free of Ebola transmission on Sept. 3 after 42 days with no new cases, while Sierra Leone will be declared Ebola free on Nov. 7 if there is no new transmission, the WHO said.
The 42-day countdown only starts once the last patient tests negative a second time, normally after a 48-hour gap following their first negative test.