Conakry, Nov 28: British scientists announced trials on a 15-minute Ebola test in Guinea as France's Francois Hollande arrived in Conakry today, becoming the first Western leader to visit one of the countries devastated by the epidemic.
The prototype is six times faster than current tests and aims to speed up diagnosis, the London-based global research charity Wellcome Trust and Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) said in a statement.
"A reliable, 15-minute test that can confirm cases of Ebola would be a key tool for effective management of the Ebola outbreak, allowing patients to be identified, isolated and cared for as soon as possible," said Val Snewin of the Wellcome Trust. She said the test was designed to be suitable for remote field hospitals where electricity and cold storage are often scarce.
The trials, to be led by researchers from Dakar's Pasteur Institute at an Ebola treatment centre in Conakry in the coming weeks, will come as a welcome boon in Guinea which has lost 1,200 people to Ebola. The biggest Ebola epidemic on record has claimed around 5,700 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the beginning of the year, according to the World Health Organization.
President Hollande pledged his support for Guinea after arriving in France's west African former colony on Friday. "We have a duty to support you," he told his hosts, adding that "we are together with you in the struggle, in this battle" and thanking Guinea for containing the epidemic.