Emergency meeting called as Ebola spreads to Congolese city
Emergency meeting called as Ebola spreads to Congolese city
Congo Confirms 14 More Ebola Virus Cases
18 May, 2018, 10:32
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.
"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Ilunga said, adding he was anxious because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province.
The WHO was fiercely criticised over its handling of the 2013 outbreak and has pledged to improve emergency response. "We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola".
Last week, Salama told reporters a "major urban outbreak" could occur if Ebola reached a city of Mbandaka's size.
Experts are alarmed by the spread of the virus to a major city.
In Mbandaka and Bikoro, 514 people who may have been in contact with infected people have been notified by national health authorities and are being monitored, according to MSF. The other death was a suspected case in Wangata. This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since the 1970s, and the first since May of previous year, when five confirmed cases resulted in four deaths.
"This is a concerning development but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said of the new urban case. Fourteen cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests.
Senior WHO official Peter Salama said the spread to Mbandaka meant there was the potential for an "explosive increase" in cases.
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Ebola is notoriously hard to contain, though recent outbreaks in Congo have been managed swiftly by the government and global health institutions.
The scale of the previous outbreak forced several nations, including Russian Federation and China, to develop vaccines to Ebola.
There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or those who have died from the disease.
Isolation zones have been set up in Mbandaka's main hospital as well as Bikoro hospital, with more Ebola treatment centers being set up in Mbandaka and Bikoro. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization delivered 4,000 injections of an experimental vaccine with proven efficacy in recent trials, and more batches are expected soon.
This is the ninth time DRC has been hit with Ebola since 1976, when the deady viral disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team.
The UN agency has been working with the Ministry of Health and Médecins Sans Frontières to conduct the ring fence vaccinations across the affected areas - where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated. Ebola is thought to be spread over long distances by fruit bats and is often transmitted to humans via contaminated bushmeat.
He said the disease could have been taken there by people who attended the funeral of an Ebola victim in Bikoro, the south of Mbandaka, before travelling to the city.
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