Emergency Meeting Called to Assess Global Risks of Ongoing Ebola Outbreak

Emergency Meeting Called to Assess Global Risks of Ongoing Ebola Outbreak

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Mbandaka is located on the Congo River positioned near the confluence of the Congo and Ruki Rivers.

People can get EVD through direct contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate) or a sick or dead person infected with Ebola virus. The virus's presence is risky there because Mbandaka is a port on the Congo River, about three hundred miles upstream from the capital Kinshasa.

Already the World Health Organization has warned that there is a "moderate" regional risk because the disease could travel along the river to Central African Republic and Congo Republic. Three of those cases have tested positive for the Ebola virus; the rest are likely to have Ebola as well, though laboratories have yet to confirm the virus's presence. The Bikoro health zone is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Mbandaka and 45 kilometers from Ikoko Impenge, which have suspected cases.

Ilunga said Congo now is entering an urban phase of the outbreak, with higher spread potential.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders said 514 people who are thought to have been in contact with infected people were now being monitored.

As of Wednesday, a total of 44 cases of hemorrhagic fever had been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the outbreak was announced on May 8.

Forty-four cases have been reported in the outbreak so far, including three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected, according to the WHO's tally. 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. However, that was before news of the confirmed case in Wangata.

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"The remote location of the outbreak hampers both the information about the outbreak and interventions to control it", said Cyrus Shahpar, director of epidemic prevention at Resolve to Save Lives, a New York-based organisation.

Congo's latest Ebola outbreak had been detected in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus.

For the first time, the DRC has received Wednesday thousands of doses of vaccine against the Ebola virus disease sent by the WHO.

Also, the WHO today said its Ebola emergency committee will meet tomorrow to decide if the developments warrant a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), a step that would trigger temporary recommendations and heighten international efforts to battle the spread of the disease. The vaccine, developed by Merck and Co Inc, is still not licenced but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016.

"Thanks to our expertise in the DRC in epidemiological surveillance, we have always taken control of the Ebola virus, and even now I think that the virus is already under control", said Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe, medical director of the INRB.

The WHO expert committee will decide whether to declare a "public health emergency of worldwide concern", which would trigger more global involvement, mobilising research and resources, Lindmeier said.

Patients' may bleed internally, or bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth. This new case is linked with the epicentre of the epidemic, the east of Lake Tumba.

Over the past week, several countries in the region, some of which surround the DRC, have announced response measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in their territories.

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