Congo Ebola outbreak: 2 more die; 7 new cases confirmed

Ebola community

Congo Ebola vaccination campaign rolled out

The UK is providing fresh support to help tackle the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt will announce today (Wednesday 23 May).

Seven new confirmed cases have been registered in Bikoro, the ministry said, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 28.

More than 1 million people live in Mbandaka, which is located along the Congo River - a major transportation route that links the outbreak zone to large cities to the north and south.

Salama noted that, in eight Ebola outbreaks in Congo, two patterns have emerged: The virus affected either isolated rural areas only or towns only. "The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we're going to be able to keep it under control", Dr. Peter Salama, the WHO emergencies chief, told a recent World Heath Assembly session.

When Ebola hit West Africa in 2014, some of the obstacles that impeded the medical response included lack of trust among communities dealing with outbreaks and religious practices - such as washing the body of the dead - that spread the disease, which is contagious through bodily fluids.

It is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo in four decades.

"All it takes is one sick person to travel down the Congo River and we can have outbreaks seeded in many different locations. that can happen at any moment".

"In previous outbreaks in DRC, community communication has proven to be crucial in terms of the effectiveness of the response to Ebola", said Yves Willemot, a UNICEF spokesman.

Likewise, health workers - a key population being targeted by this campaign - need to understand that they can't let their guard down when it comes to treating Ebola patients, he said.

The WHO has deployed more than 120 people and is working with partners, including UNICEF, the United Nations, the National Science Foundation and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, said Jasarevic.

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He warned against spreading false reports which "could create panic and undermine the effectiveness of the response to the Ebola outbreak".

A team from Doctors Without Borders dons protective clothing and equipment as they prepare to treat Ebola patients in an isolation ward of Mbandaka hospital in Congo.

Those infected with Ebola can suffer from severe internal bleeding, fever, diarrhea and vomiting.

But Yakouide quickly denied it, saying that no cases are confirmed in the capital.

Contacts who developed Ebola in the nine days after vaccination were excluded because they would have been infected before they were vaccinated, or contracted the virus before their immune systems had time to mount a response to the vaccine.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of World Health Organization, noted the difficulty of maintaining the vaccine's proper temperature in country.

He said some 10,000 people should be vaccinated within the next month.

"The government had already triggered the community committees so that communities can take the ownership and contribute, and they are going house to house to identify cases and to identify contacts.Starting from the Government leadership, everything is triggered", he said.

"They are connected, they are very close, and ... that makes the problem really serious", he said.

The cases represent a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including the use of experimental vaccines, and shows efforts to stem its spread can be hampered by age-old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses.

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