Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Medical | By Alyssa Little

WHO Says Congo Faces 'Very High' Risk From Ebola Outbreak

WHO Says Congo Faces 'Very High' Risk From Ebola Outbreak

With the 14 confirmed Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the health officials are working towards controlling the Ebola outbreak in the city which has over 1 million people.

"If you remember from the previous outbreak, it took a whole lot for the global community to understand it's a unsafe disease.Today it seems as if as soon as the first case was declared at least a lot of people are coming in to help", said Axelle Ronsse of the organisation.

The meeting of the Emergency Committee would decide whether to declare an official public health emergency, which would trigger more worldwide involvement and free up more resources to deal with the outbreak.

"The Minister of health of the country confirmed case in the city of Mbandaka with a million people in 130 km from the area where it was first recorded cases of the disease this month", - is told in the message.

REUTERS  Kenny Katombe                   Congolese Health Ministry officials arrange the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa
REUTERS Kenny Katombe Congolese Health Ministry officials arrange the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa

The city of about one million people is a transport hub on the River Congo, prompting fears that the virus could now spread further, threatening the capital Kinshasa and surrounding countries.

The virus is endemic to DRC, and causes an acute, serious illness, which is often fatal if untreated. "Urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do".

A total of 45 cases of hemorrhagic fever have now been reported, including 25 deaths, the health ministry said Thursday.

"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.

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Dr Kok said the Interior ministry had been asked to restrict the movement of people and screen those entering South Sudan.

Salama also noted Mbandaka's proximity to neighboring countries, including Central African Republic and Republic of Congo.

The 4,000 doses will be sent to the remote northwest where two confirmed Ebola cases, 20 probable ones and 20 suspected ones have been reported, spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga said. These vaccines had proved to be effective in halting the Ebola outbreak in the West Africa a few years ago.

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With the poor infrastructure and electricity supply in Congo, the only challenge that remains with the vaccine is that it has to store it in a cold temperature. Ebola is a highly infectious disease spread through contact with even small amounts of bodily fluid of an infected person.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the disease was first identified.

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