Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Ebola vaccine arrives in DR Congo amid outbreak

Ebola vaccine arrives in DR Congo amid outbreak

Health officials have confirmed a case in the northwest city of Mbandaka, a busy river port located at the intersection of the Congo and Ruki rivers and with trade routes to the capital Kinshasa.

Mr Ilunga said Congo now is entering an urban phase of the outbreak, meaning that the disease could spread more rapidly and further afield.

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to a city, the World Health Organization said Thursday, May 17, raising concern the deadly virus may prove tougher to contain. WHO says it will use the "ring vaccination" method by administering the treatment to voluntary contacts, and contacts of those contacts, besides health workers.

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Before this announcement, all confirmed Ebola cases were reported in the Bikoro health zone, where health facilities are limited and affected areas are hard to reach.

This Ebola recurrence is the ninth DRC has faced in 4 decades after the first in 1976.

Before Wednesday's announcement, there had been only two cases of the virus confirmed by lab tests.

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"Five thousand four hundred doses of vaccine arrived from Geneva this morning" said health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga. While none has been connected to the one in West Africa, the experimental vaccine is thought to be effective against the Zaire strain of Ebola found in Congo.

Among those are three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected cases.

The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was "high" and announced it was preparing for the "worst case scenario". The health body also sent 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities.

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