Medical

Congo's Ebola outbreak in 'new phase' after urban case

Congo's Ebola outbreak in 'new phase' after urban case

Last year, eight people were infected and four people died after an outbreak of the disease, according to the Centres for Disease Control.

The latest outbreak of Ebola has spread to a large city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the country's health minister.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to neighbouring west African countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people out of almost 29,000 registered cases.

The World Health Organisation, which is deploying vaccines to the country, previously expressed its concerns of the disease reaching the city of Mbandaka.

Spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga says the vaccines will be sent to Mbandaka and Bikoro, the rural areas where two confirmed cases and several suspected cases have been reported.

He said scientists are working to identify the number of people who may have had contact with the virus, on top of the 500 already identified.

12 2018 health workers don protective clothing as they prepare to attend to patients in the isolation ward to diagnose and treat suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital in Bikoro the rural area where the Ebola out
First confirmed urban Ebola case is a 'game changer' in Congo outbreak

Authorities said they were tracing all air, river, and road routes in and out of the city to find the source of the virus.

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in Congo since the disease made its first-known appearance near its northern Ebola river in the 1970s.

The first batch of over 4,000 Ebola vaccines was sent by the World Health Organization to Kinshasa on Wednesday.

The vaccine, developed by Merck and Co Inc, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016.

The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was "high" and announced it was preparing for the "worst case scenario".

Among those are three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected cases. The health body also sent 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities. It involves vaccinating voluntary contacts, contacts of those contacts and health care and other front-line workers.