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Spread Of Ebola In Congo A 'Game Changer'

18 May 2018
Spread Of Ebola In Congo A 'Game Changer'

This new Ebola case was confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of almost 1.2 million people in Equateur Province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "Now that we are facing the Ebola virus we must use all the resources we have".

Nine Ebola outbreaks have occurred in DRC since the virus was first identified in 1976.

The World Bank's IDA-financed health system investments in DRC total United States dollars 400 million and target 11 out of 26 provinces in the country, including Equateur, the province now most affected by the outbreak.

The city of nearly 1.2 million is on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor in the vast country and upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million.

The committee can advise WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on actions to be taken by Congo and other countries to try to halt the worldwide spread of disease without unduly interfering with trade or transport.

The Ministry of Health says it received 5,400 doses on Wednesday.

In September 2014, World Health Organization identified both VSV and the ChAd3 vaccine as the most advanced candidates for use in the West African outbreak, mainly because both appeared to protect people after a single inoculation.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Ilunga said in a statement.

World Health Organization experts and teams from Doctors Without Borders have been in Bikoro, where the outbreak was first reported.

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

The virus is contracted by humans through infected animals, typically fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys.

According to Serge Kabamba, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Kinshasa, like the other previous epidemics, the current Ebola epidemic in the Bikoro area should remain limited to certain geographical areas of the province without leading to a health catastrophe, if the responses are well coordinated as usual.

Previously, all of the Ebola cases during this outbreak were located in Bikoro, which is a remote African region.

Persistent rain and lack of roads has hampered the effort to contain the outbreak so far.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), quoting local officials, said 514 people were believed to have been in contact with Ebola patients and were now being monitored.

Part of the difficulty in deploying the vaccine is that it must be transported and stored at between -60 and -80 degrees Fahrenheit, which requires powerful refrigerators.

Though the world is in a better position to protect communities and health workers this time thanks to rapid national response and worldwide collaboration, he said, "his will be an incredibly challenging operation, across a vast area and fragile health systems-and can not be limited to deployment of vaccines". Its deployment is being financed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is Geneva-based.

Health experts have identified 500 contacts of the cases and they are now being traced, Ilunga said. Mbandaka's dense population and the fact that it is a bustling port both heighten the risk of rapid spread.