World Congo's latest outbreak more challenging than ever, WHO says

01:00  11 august  2018
01:00  11 august  2018 Source:

Congo announces 4 new Ebola cases in North Kivu province

  Congo announces 4 new Ebola cases in North Kivu province Congo says at least four new cases of Ebola have emerged in the country's east, just a week after an outbreak in the northwest was declared over. The ministry says there is no indication the two epidemics separated by more than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) are related.The North Kivu health division notified the ministry on Saturday of 26 cases of hemorrhagic fever, including 20 deaths in North Kivu province. The ministry says four of six samples sent to the capital for analysis came back positive for Ebola.The new cases are in eastern Mabalako health zone within the Beni region.

An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not yet an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization has said . The WHO said it had identified more than 500 people who had potentially come into contact with Ebola patients in the country.

Health workers had identified 430 people who may have had contact with the disease and were working to trace more than 4,000 contacts of Ebola patients, who had spread across north-west DR Congo , the WHO said . More on this story. Ebola: DR Congo confirms new outbreak in country' s north-west.

BENI, Congo — Armed groups, dense populations and mass displacement make Congo's latest deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus more challenging than ever to contain, the World Health Organization's chief said Friday.

Health authorities face fight against Ebola ‘in a war zone’

  Health authorities face fight against Ebola ‘in a war zone’ A new outbreak of the Ebola virus in a densely-populated part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has global public health officials concerned.Load Error

That is more than twice as many epidemics as any other country. The kind of Ebola in the latest outbreak has been confirmed as the Zaire strain that the Merck vaccine protects against, Congo ' s health ministry said late on Thursday.

Congo has a long track record with Ebola, WHO said . None of these outbreaks was connected to the massive outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that began in 2014 and left more than 11,300 dead.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke after vaccinations began this week, with support from a U.N. peacekeeping mission, in Congo's restive northeast where multiple rebel groups pose a threat and a heavily traveled border with Uganda is nearby.

Tedros and Congo's health minister on Saturday planned to visit the village where the latest outbreak, Congo's tenth, was declared on Aug. 1. The ministry says 48 cases have been reported, 21 of them confirmed as Ebola, including 11 deaths.

This outbreak is different from the one in Congo's northwest that was declared over a week before this one began, Tedros said. "And that may require actually a stronger response."

The use of the experimental vaccine and a swift international response were key in stopping the earlier outbreak, which killed 33 people. Health officials are using the same strategy now, first vaccinating health workers, contacts of Ebola cases and their contacts while finding and monitoring nearly 1,000 people so far.

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Congo ' s latest Ebola outbreak declared in May has 38 confirmed cases, including 14 deaths. In the West Africa outbreak four years ago that killed more than 11,000 people, it was widely suspected that the epidemic The people at greatest risk are hunters and butchers who process the meat, he said .

The outbreak triggered particular concern because it occurred in a remote northwestern area that was hard to reach but close to the Congo River, causing fears it could take root in a neighboring city or spread to the capital Kinshasa, a city of more than 10 million people.

"The vaccination alone cannot help," Tedros warned, adding that finding and monitoring people is crucial, along with community awareness programs. WHO has said more than 3,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine are available in Congo.

The region's shifting population poses a challenge. North Kivu province, where most of the cases in the new outbreak have been reported, hosts about 1 million internally displaced persons because of the regional insecurity, according to the U.N.'s migration agency.  

The U.N. refugee agency on Friday said Ebola screenings are being carried out at transit points while an estimated 250 to 300 people a day cross into Uganda seeking refuge. Officials have said travel restrictions in response to the outbreak are not necessary.

Some worried Congolese have called for mass vaccinations in the border region, which the health minister said could not be done.

Others want more security.

"We call on the Congolese army to strengthen their presence and guard convoys of aid workers who are treating Ebola in the Beni region," pastor Gilbert Kambale told The Associated Press.

Civil society groups have pointed out the threat from Allied Democratic Forces rebels who have killed more than 1,500 people in and around Beni in less than two years.


Petesch reported from Dakar, Senegal.


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