Congo Ebola Outbreak Enters “New Level”
It is getting complicated in the Central African nation of Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
The recent Ebola outbreak in the country has entered “a new phase” after a case of the deadly virus was detected for the first time in the northwest city of Mbandaka, with a population of about 1 million people.
This makes it the first urban case to be recorded in the latest outbreak.
So far, the 23 deaths believed to have been caused by latest Ebola outbreak had been detected in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus.
But the first urban case to be announced threatens to change that.
The World Health Organization, WHO which on Wednesday deployed the first experimental vaccines in the vast central African country, had expressed concern about the disease reaching Mbandaka, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle.
Adding to the headache is the city’s location on the banks of the Congo River, a major thoroughfare for trade and transport into the capital, Kinshasa. The Congo Republic is on the other side of the river.
“We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement.
“Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases,” Kalenga added in the statement.
He said authorities would intensify population tracing at all air, river and road routes out of the city.
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.
Meanwhile, the first batch of over 4,000 Ebola vaccines was sent by the WHO to Kinshasa on Wednesday. The Health Ministry said vaccinations would start by early next week, the first time the vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.
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