World Health Organization says Ebola outbreak has spread to DR Congo city

Posted May 17, 2018

The U.N. World Health Organization will convene an Emergency Committee on Friday to consider the global risks of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on Thursday.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to neighbouring west African countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people out of almost 29,000 registered cases.

So far, 23 deaths have been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo's latest Ebola outbreak, the ninth since the disease made its first-known appearance near its northern Ebola river in the 1970s.

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The World Health Organization sent 5,400 doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine to Congo on Wednesday, according to the health minister.

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"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", he said, adding he is anxious because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province. They would be kept in Kinshasa until a refrigerated transportation chain could be guaranteed.

"This weekend, two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the health zone of Wangata, one of the health zones of Mbandaka City".

On Wednesday, the authorities of the DRC have received 5,400 doses of vaccine against Ebola whose effectiveness was established during the last epidemic in West Africa.

The WHO said it had sent 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities, a possible indication of how big it expects the outbreak to be. The vaccine will be reserved for people suspected of coming into contact with the disease, as well as health workers.

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She says two cases of Ebola are confirmed, 20 are probable and 20 are suspected.

The vaccine is complicated to use, requiring storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius.

Congo's Ebola outbreak has spread to a city, the capital of the northwestern Equateur province, a worrying shift as the risk of infection is more easily passed on in densely populated urban areas.

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