Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Congo says confirmed Ebola cases have reached 31; 9 deaths

Congo says confirmed Ebola cases have reached 31; 9 deaths

So far, 52 confirmed, likely or suspected cases of the deadly virus have been registered in DRC, including 22 deaths.

Congo's government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and aid agencies are racing to contain what could be the most unsafe of Democratic Republic of Congo's nine epidemics since it was discovered by northern Congo's eponymous river four decades ago.

Tedros said he was pleased by the government's quick response.

This new United Kingdom aid support will help the World Health Organisation (WHO) to monitor the spread of the disease, identify and diagnose cases, trace people at risk of infection, support the vaccination campaign, and treat the sick. "We are watching it around the clock, 24/7, and we hope it will have a better outcome". In the eight previous outbreaks, Ebola occurred in either isolated rural areas or in small towns where the disease remained largely confined.

Peter Salama, WHO's head of emergency response, pointed out this week that clinical care facilities have been set up, an air bridge has been established to Bikoro, emergency financing has been mobilised, protective gear and emergency medical kits have been supplied.

News of the incidents emerged amid warnings that the DRC's ninth ebola outbreak had reached "a critical point" and highlighted the challenge facing emergency teams attempting to implement an experimental vaccination campaign and convince infected patients to stay away from their families.

Health officials fear it could spread rapidly in Mbandaka, a densely populated city of one million.

World Health Organization is accelerating efforts with nine countries neighboring Congo to try to prevent the Ebola outbreak from spreading beyond the border.

Our support is vital in helping to contain Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and stop it spreading to other countries - and ultimately the UK.

"It's hard to recall a situation of an outbreak where a Government has responded more quickly and more decisively than in this outbreak", Salama said. "It is documenting how people are getting infected and, therefore, managing control, the control of transmission".

Ebola virus outbreak 2018 Congo
REUTERSThe Ebola virus was first discovered along the Congo River in DR Congo

"We're really just at the beginning", he said.

For doctors and health officials these beliefs raise serious concerns, complicating efforts to contain and roll back the deadly Ebola virus. There are more than 7,500 doses of the vaccine, made by Merck, on the ground already, and the company has been asked by the World Health Organization to send another 8,600, a Merck spokesperson said.

"This has raised the chances that it might spread both nationally and internationally", Salama said.

"This is not mass immunization", he noted. The vaccine will also be given to people who have come in contact with those infected. It said it will expand operations for community-based surveillance and safe burials.

So the country's health ministry and its global partners, such as the WHO and Oxfam, are conducting awareness campaigns by organizing community dialogues and going door-to-door to advise people on what hygiene precautions to take in times of outbreaks. The Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, which have land and river borders with the affected areas, are at particular risk as there is a constant movement of people between the countries.

"In the next five days 100 people must be vaccinated, including 70 health professionals", Health Minister Oly Ilunga said.

"The victim will be far from others so that he can not contaminate them".

A laboratory worker uses a microscope at the health centre in the commune of Wangata during a vaccination campaign against the outbreak of Ebola, in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 23, 2018.

"It is not over yet", he cautioned.

"It is going to be at least weeks and more likely months before we get this outbreak fully under control", Salama said.

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