Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

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

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

Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million, marking the first urban case in the latest outbreak, which is now the most serious since the epidemic that raged across West Africa between 2014 and 2016. When a new Ebola case is diagnosed, all people who might have been in recent contact with them are traced and vaccinated to try and prevent the disease's spread. WHO has therefore revised the assessment of public health risk to very high at the national level and high at the regional level.

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

A total of 44 cases of hemorrhagic fever have now been reported, including 23 deaths, according to the health ministry. No details were given on the death's links to the newly confirmed case. One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Mbandaka, a city with a population of about 1.2 million, World Health Organization confirmed on Thursday, raising fears that despite a rapid response by authorities, the outbreak has not been contained.

DRC has entered a "new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Mr Ilunga said.

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Experts are alarmed by the spread of the virus to a major city.

Chief executive Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited the affected Bikoro area last weekend, saying he hoped for a "better way out" of the latest outbreak in DRC. "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus".

WHO-partner, MSF, has also deployed its teams and is working with United Nations agencies to strengthen health capacity to treat Ebola patients. It's deploying about 30 experts to conduct surveillance in the city and inform local communities on treatment and prevention methods in collaboration with the country's Ministry of Health.

A priest prays outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 25, 2018.

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Isolation zones have been set up in Mbandaka's main hospital, and in Bikoro, WHO said. On average, about 50 percent of people who become ill with Ebola die.

This is the ninth outbreak, since the discovery of the Ebola virus in the country in 1976.

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. 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. This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since the 1970s, and the first since May of a year ago, when five confirmed cases resulted in four deaths.

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