CONAKRY, March 31 (Reuters) - Guinea has detected at least three new cases of Ebola in the alumina hub of Fria, according to the national coordination of the fight against the disease, as authorities blamed popular resistance for hampering the battle against the virus.
The worst detected outbreak of the disease is believed to have killed more than 10,300 people in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Guinea, more than 2,200 people are believed to have died since the epidemic was first detected a year ago. Some 50 people remain hospitalised in Ebola treatment centres.
Following a dip in January, new cases have spiked since early March in and around the capital, prompting officials to announce a new phase of the epidemic in Guinea.
Guinea’s President Alpha Conde announced on Saturday emergency measures enabling authorities to restrict movements in western Guinea in a bid to stem transmission of the disease.
In the report seen by Reuters, authorities cited three new cases in Fria, including one that died in the community, as well as two in the capital Conakry, and one each in the towns of Dubreka and Forecariah.
Fria is home to the only alumina smelter in the West African country, Friguia, which produced some 630,000 tonnes of alumina a year until it was shuttered by Russian aluminium giant RUSAL in 2012.
The report noted the refusal by the local population in Conakry to hand over two other suspected cases, despite the intervention of local authorities. It said families in the town of Coyah, 50 km ( miles) from Conakry had refused to follow contacts of an Ebola case.
The resistance of local communities, which refuse to admit the existence of the disease, has dogged efforts to eradicate Ebola in Guinea since it was detected in March 2014.
“People’s reticence has made us lose a lot of time,” said Naby Youssouf Kiridi Bangoura, a spokesman for the Guinean presidency. He said gendarmes stationed outside Conakry had recently intercepted two bodies hidden under baggage.
Authorities also indicated that 12 Ebola contacts had slipped away from the Conakry suburb of Matoto for the eastern town of Siguiri near the Malian border, Mamou in the centre of Guinea and Boke in the west. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; Editing by Daniel Flynn)