Ebola outbreak spreads to Congo city of 1 million

Ebola outbreak spreads to Congo city of 1 million

The other was in Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week. 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. That brings to three the number of confirmed Ebola cases.

A newly confirmed case in a densely populated part of the country will complicate attempts to control the outbreak.

"This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola", said Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO.

Experts are alarmed by the spread of the virus to a major city.

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

Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease expert and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, said the outbreak had "all the features of something that could turn really nasty".

Two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones that include Mbandaka, the capital of northwestern Equateur province.

For a health crisis to constitute a global health emergency it must meet three criteria stipulated by WHO: It must threaten other countries via the worldwide spread of disease, it must be a "serious, unusual or unexpected" situation and it may require immediate worldwide action for containment.

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"With the new case confirmed in Mbandaka, the scenario has changed, and it has become most serious and worrying, since the disease is now affecting an urban area".

As the outbreak continues to grow, fears that it may spread overseas linger as many remember the West African Epidemic in 2014. "And we are taking it very seriously", Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, the World Health Organization regional emergency director for Africa, said Monday when two cases were suspected in Mbandaka and being kept in isolation.

World Health Organization sent the first 4000 vaccines to Kinshasa in DRC on Wednesday and another 4000 vaccines will be delivered to affected areas in the coming days.

The Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from animals and has an estimated 50-percent fatality rate, according to the WHO.

The UN agency has been working with the Ministry of Health and Doctors Without Borders to conduct the ring fence vaccinations across the affected areas - where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated.

So far 23 people have reportedly died from the disease in the Congolese outbreak.

This is the ninth outbreak, since the discovery of the Ebola virus in the country in 1976.

"As more evidence comes in of the separation of cases in space and time, and healthcare workers getting infected, and people attending funerals and then traveling quite big distances - it's got everything we would worry about", he told Reuters.

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