Sunday, 20 May, 2018

World Health Organization says Ebola poses a 'very high' risk to the Congo public

12 health workers don protective clothing as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital in Bikoro Congo Congo's Ebola risk 'very high' as confirmed virus cases rise
Judith Alexander | 18 May, 2018, 15:59

WHO's deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, Peter Salama, had told reporters on Thursday that the risk assessment was being reviewed.

"The confirmed case in Mbandaka, a large urban centre located on major national and worldwide river, road and domestic air routes, increases the risk of spread within DRC and to neighbouring countries", the World Health Organization said.

It is noted that now the situation became much more serious after all, before the distribution occurred exclusively in rural areas, however, recent distribution already identified in the big city, namely in Equateur province, Mbandaka.

Meanwhile, humanitarian organisation Doctors without Borders has intensified its response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Fourteen of those cases are confirmed to be Ebola virus disease, 10 are suspected and 21 are probable.

So far, 23 people have reportedly died and until Thursday, there were more than 40 suspected or confirmed cases.

Motshegwa said following the outbreak of the deadly Ebola in the DRC, her ministry has put measures in place at points of entry.

The health ministry said two new deaths have been tied to the cases, including one in a suburb of Mbandaka.

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Mbandaka had three suspected cases in addition to the confirmed case.

The WHO has deployed doses of the experimental vaccine along with emergency teams and equipment Congo.

She warned that the disease can be transmitted via human contact with the body fluids of an infected person and is fatal.

"We're certainly not trying to cause any panic in the national or global community", Salama said. "We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola".

Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people, is in a busy travel corridor in Congo's northwest Equateur province and is upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million.

The EU funding announced today will ensure deployment of relevant surge capacity to the affected areas, surveillance and contact tracing of Ebola victims as well as active case finding for early detection of those infected. The WHO said it is deploying about 30 more experts to the city.

It will be used to protect health workers and "rings" of contacts around each case. Moreover, WHO said that no restrictions have issued on worldwide travel. It was tested in Guinea during the outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa from 2014 to 2016.

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