Four new cases of ebola surface in Congo

  • Four new cases of ebola surface in Congo

Four new cases of ebola surface in Congo

Health officials flew six blood samples to the capital of Kinshasa, where four tested positive for the Ebola virus. "The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population", Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General of emergency preparedness and response, said in a statement. "This is an active conflict zone".

The declaration brought the curtain down on an outbreak which began two months earlier in the remote northwestern area of Bikoro, about 2,000km from Mangina, on May 8 and culminated in 54 confirmed cases of Ebola, 33 of which proved fatal.

The outbreak has occurred in the Beni region of North Kivu - the stronghold of a notorious Ugandan-linked Islamist militia called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Officials from the United Nations, World Bank, WHO Congo's Ministry of Health, including Health Minister Oly Ilunga, will support a team already on the ground.

The area also has strong trade with neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, raising the risk of the virus moving internationally.

For many experts, that ranked among worst-case scenarios - contagious disease in an urban setting is far harder to contain than in the countryside, especially in a poor country with a fragile health system.

"Ebola virus confirmed in North Kivu", Paluku wrote on Twitter.

Once present in humans, it causes haemorrhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhea and is spread through direct contact with body fluids.

It is believed to be spread over long distances by bats and can turn up in bush meat, available at food markets throughout Congo.

An outbreak from 2014 to 2016 killed over 11,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Congolese and worldwide health officials deployed an experimental vaccine during the last outbreak, which helped contain its spread after it reached a large river port city.

If it is the Zaire strain, the Merck vaccine used in the last Ebola outbreak may be an option, otherwise the situation will be much more complex "and we may not have any vaccine options", he told Reuters at WHO's headquarters in Geneva.

"Ebola is a constant threat in the DRC", said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO.