Fears in DRC as Ebola spreads to urban centre

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"The Minister of health of the country confirmed case in the city of Mbandaka with a million people in 130 km from the area where it was first recorded cases of the disease this month", - is told in the message. There were 21 other probable cases and 10 more suspected cases of Ebola. Fourteen cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests. Previously, infections and deaths had been limited to the rural Bikoro health zone, almost 150 kilometers away. A newly confirmed case in a densely populated part of the country will complicate attempts to control the outbreak, the statement said.

In a statement, the United Nations agency said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus would convene an emergency committee to discuss the matter. "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus".

"This is a major, major game-changer in the outbreak", said Dr Peter Salama, the WHO's deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response.

WHO-partner, MSF, has also deployed its teams and is working with United Nations agencies to strengthen health capacity to treat Ebola patients.

"The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area", WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.

"With the new case confirmed in Mbandaka, the scenario has changed", said Henry Gray, an MSF emergency coordinator in Mbandaka. This is the first urban case in the latest outbreak and is being considered to be one of the most serious ones in recent times.

Apart from WHO and other United Nations agencies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as other humanitarian organizations, have teams on the ground, working to contain the outbreak.

Health workers at an Ebola quarantine unit in Muma after a one case of Ebola was confirmed in their village
WHO says Ebola poses a 'very high' risk to the Congo public

The EU funding announced today will ensure deployment of relevant surge capacity to the affected areas, surveillance and contact tracing of Ebola victims as well as active case finding for early detection of those infected. It involves vaccinating contacts of cases and suspected cases, contacts of those contacts and health care and other front-line workers.

The central African country has previously had several Ebola outbreaks.

"While the WHO raised the national public health risk to 'very high", it said the global risk level is "currently low".

Congolese Health Ministry officials carry the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo May 16, 2018.

The Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from animals and has an estimated 50-percent fatality rate, according to the WHO. More than 4,000 doses have arrived in Congo this week, with more on the way, and vaccinations are expected to start next week.

Naija News reports that earlier in the week, World Health Organization delivered 5,000 Ebola vaccines in Congo as part of the UN's efforts to control the spread of the disease.

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