Fresh Ebola virus outbreak in Congo

Fresh Ebola virus outbreak in Congo

"At this point, there is no indication that these two epidemics, which are more than 2,500 kilometres apart, are connected", he said.

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced today that preliminary laboratory results indicate a cluster of cases of Ebola virus in North Kivu province.

Concern heightened in the early days of the outbreak when cases emerged in a major urban area on the Congo River.

It said in a statement late Wednesday that it still had staff and equipment in place in DR Congo after dealing with the May-July outbreak, and this would give it a "head start".

The response to Congo's previous outbreak was considered a success despite the 33 deaths, as the use of a vaccine made by Merck helped contain the virus.

The ministry said a team of 12 virus hunters would arrive in Beni, a city of about a quarter million residents near the epicenter of the outbreak, by Thursday.

The 20 died in and around Mangina, a densely populated town in North Kivu province about 30 km southwest of the city of Beni and 100 km from the Ugandan border.

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The government confirmed to the World Health Organization on Wednesday that four out of six samples tested for Ebola virus at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa returned a positive result.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola, and the virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

Worldwide efforts to contain a fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo could be thwarted by chronic violence in the region where the virus has been reported, health experts are warning.

Ebola, believed to be spread over long distances by bats, causes hemorrhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhea and is spread through direct contact with body fluids.

An outbreak concentrated in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea killed at least 11,300 people between 2013 and 2016.

Jose Barahona, Oxfam country director for the DRC, said the outbreak presented a serious risk to communities in Beni, where thousands of people are already facing hardship.

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