Ebola cases in DR Congo rise to 14

Ebola cases in DR Congo rise to 14

Peter Salama, in charge of emergency response at the World Health Organization, has said the spread to a city complicated the fight against Ebola, which depends on identifying and isolating suspected cases.

Previous reports of the disease had all been in remote areas where Ebola might spread be more easily contained.

The WHO said on Thursday that an Ebola case had been confirmed in Mbandaka, a city in the northwest of the country with a population of around a million.

AFP | Thousands of doses of Ebola vaccine arrived Wednesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is facing an outbreak of the deadly virus, the health ministry said. The city is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week, said Congo's Health Minister Oly Ilunga.

In a statement, the United Nations agency said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus would convene an emergency committee to discuss the matter.

A total of 44 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Ebola have been reported since the outbreak was detected, including 23 deaths. There have been three outbreaks in DR Congo since the 2014-16 epidemic.

A newly confirmed case in a densely populated part of the country will complicate attempts to control the outbreak. It is often transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated meat, but it can also be acquired through any kind of close contact with an infected animal.

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This is Democratic Republic of Congo's ninth epidemic since the disease was identified in the 1970s, but also its most alarming because of the risk of transmission via regular river transport to the capital Kinshasa, a city of 10,000,000 people.

Persistent rain and lack of roads have hampered the effort to contain the outbreak so far.

"WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area".

At present, 514 people who may have been in contact with infected people have been notified by the national health authorities, and they are now under monitoring. One nurse had died, and three others were among suspected cases since the outbreak began.

"While the WHO raised the national public health risk to 'very high", it said the global risk level is "currently low".

While there is no specific treatment for the deadly disease, which has a 90 percent fatality rate, World Health Organization has shipped thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine to the region.

Several tons of supplies were en route to the region, according to a statement from Doctors Without Borders, including "protection and disinfection kits containing isolation items such as protective clothing, gloves and boots; logistical and hygiene kits containing items such as plastic sheets, chlorine spray kits and water treatment kits; and palliative drugs to treat Ebola symptoms, such as strong painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and antibiotics".

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