Ebola has spread to Mbandaka a densely populated area in the Democratic Republic of Congo
18 May, 2018, 15:07
Congo's Ebola outbreak has spread to a crossroads city of more than 1 million people in a turn that marks the first time the vast, impoverished country has encountered the lethal virus in an urban area. The other was in Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week.
A total of 45 cases of hemorrhagic fever have now been reported, including 25 deaths, the health ministry said Thursday. No details were given on the death's links to the newly confirmed case.
WHO-partner, MSF, has also deployed its teams and is working with United Nations agencies to strengthen health capacity to treat Ebola patients. Peter Salama, the WHO's deputy director general of emergency preparedness and response called this confirmed case of Ebola a "game changer" because it would dramatically increase the speed of spread of the outbreak.
"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Ilunga said, adding he was anxious because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province.
"Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field with community relays to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases".
Apart from WHO and other United Nations agencies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as other humanitarian organizations, have teams on the ground, working to contain the outbreak.
"WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area".
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the first suspected victim was a police officer who died in a health center in the village of Ikoki-Impenge, near Bikoro.
World Health Organization now calls the risk to the public in Congo "very high" and the regional risk high, with the global risk low.
Moreover, WHO has deployed 4,000 experimental Ebola vaccines in DRC and more of the vaccines should reach DRC in the coming days.
The vaccine supplies so far will be enough to vaccinate 50 rings of 150 people, according to the WHO. Ebola is endemic in Congo, and this is the ninth outbreak of the disease there since the 1970s.
"Medical teams have been rushing to track down anyone thought to have had contact with infected people", says Time magazine, "while World Health Organization is shipping thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine". It is often transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated meat, but it can also be acquired through any kind of close contact with an infected animal.
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