'Strong progress' in calming Congo Ebola outbreak

  • 'Strong progress' in calming Congo Ebola outbreak

'Strong progress' in calming Congo Ebola outbreak

Congo's health ministry says another Ebola case has been confirmed as the pace of new cases slows one month after the outbreak was officially declared.

Emergency Health Chief, Peter Salama, said this at a news conference in Geneva.

Four of the five approved drugs are now in the country.

"What this is telling us is the response (the WHO's vaccination program) is having an impact in those two locations", said Salama.

The patient, a known contact of someone believed to have died from Ebola on May 20, was confirmed positive on Wednesday for the hemorrhagic fever in the rural community of Iboko, the ministry said in a daily report. He also said many cases in the area are connected to a super-spreader, a female nurse who treated people both formally and informally.

Among the reported cases, 38 have been confirmed by laboratories so far.

While Ebola's spread to a major city has complicated efforts to track all contacts of those infected, the presence of the virus in Iboko poses another world of problems.

Mr Salama, who just returned from a two-day visit to the DRC said: "There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro". It's a "major boots on the ground" effort that takes several hours to trace each and every contact, he said.

Phase 1 of the vaccination campaign, a plan to protect urban centers and towns, has "gone well", said Salama. This is the first time such treatments are available in the midst of an Ebola outbreak.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

"Tough work is going to go on for the next weeks", said Salama.

World Health Organization however, said in the context of an outbreak characterized by high mortality, it can be ethically appropriate to offer individual patients investigational interventions on an emergency basis outside clinical trials.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health approved the use of these experimental treatments, some used on patients in past outbreaks, during the current outbreak. "And we've learned the hard way in the past never to underestimate Ebola".