World Health Organization in emergency talks as Ebola cases spread

World Health Organization in emergency talks as Ebola cases spread

On Wednesday, the minister said the Ebola outbreak in the DRC entered a "new phase" following the first reported case of the deadly virus in the northwestern city of Mbandaka, with a population of some 1 million. An IFRC spokeswoman said the organization is "kick-starting its response" using stocks of medicine, disinfectant and informational posters left over from last year's outbreak. The case in Mbandaka is only the third confirmed case of the current outbreak; 20 others are probable, and 21 are suspected, bringing the total potential cases to 44. No details were given on the death's links to the newly confirmed case. Mbandaka is located about 150 kilometers from the rural area of Bikoro, where the outbreak was detected earlier this month.

"This is a concerning development but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said of the new urban case. "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus".

Healthcare teams fear that the spread of the infection would be faster in the city compared to the rural areas that they were dealing with up until now.

Worldwide teams are seeking to isolate and treat anyone who may have been exposed to the virus. That new death had epidemiological ties to another case.

Micaela Serafini, a medical director for the global charity Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who is helping coordinate the response to the Congo outbreak, said its teams are planning for at least 45 minutes of discussion and information-sharing with each person, with a translator present, before signed consent would be obtained.

World Health Organization now calls the risk to the public in Congo "very high" and the regional risk high, with the global risk low. Ebola, endemic in Congo, is often transmitted to humans through eating contaminated meat, but can be caught through any close contact with an infected animal. More than 4,000 doses have arrived in Congo this week, with more on the way, and vaccinations are expected to start next week. The number of victims of the disease caused by the Ebola virus, may be much higher - at the moment the Ministry of health is aware of 25 deaths linked to the Ebola outbreak has not yet been confirmed, reports "Interfax".

There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or those who have died from the disease.

This is Democratic Republic of Congo's ninth epidemic since the disease was identified in the 1970s, but also its most alarming because of the risk of transmission via regular river transport to the capital Kinshasa, a city of 10,000,000 people.

The aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said 514 people who are thought to have been in contact with infected people were now being monitored.

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