Updated: 00:17, Tuesday March 25, 2014
Aid workers and public health officials are battling to contain west Africa's first outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus as tests on suspected cases in Conakry allayed fears that it had spread to the capital.
At least 59 people have died in an outbreak of the virulent virus raging through Guinea's southern forests but tests on three haemorrhagic fever cases - two of them fatal - in Conakry were negative, the government said.
'The Pasteur Institute in Dakar worked urgently all last night on samples taken from suspected cases here in Conakry, which were all negative,' Sakoba Keita, the health ministry's chief disease prevention officer, said on Monday.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement on Sunday that the Ebola virus 'has quickly spread from the communities of Macenta, Gueckedou, and Kissidougou to the capital, Conakry'.
Keita said however that the Pasteur Institute was still working on identifying the virus behind the fever cases in the capital and would know more 'in the coming hours'.
Officials from the health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) met on Sunday in Conakry for urgent talks on the crisis.
The first analyses of samples conducted by the Pasteur Institute in the French city of Lyon showed that cases in southern Guinea were due to the Ebola virus.
To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola, which kills between 25 and 90 per cent of those who fall sick, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.
The disease is transmitted by direct contact with blood, faeces or sweat, or by sexual contact and the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
UNICEF said on Sunday at least three victims of the outbreak were children and eight health workers had been among the first to die after treating infected patients.