Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Medical | By Mark Scott

Democratic Republic of Congo Confirms New Ebola Cases

Democratic Republic of Congo Confirms New Ebola Cases

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and her Tourism counterpart Najib Balala address the press after Ebola outbreak in DRC, May 11, 2018.

The government of Congo declared a new outbreak of Ebola after at least two people were infected and possibly as many as 17 died from the disease in the country's northwest.

The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo deployed Rapid Response Teams to investigate cases and deaths reported in Bikoro health zone in the Equateur province.

However, research by Kent University suggests a drive to vaccinate the entire population wouldn't be an effective way of stopping the disease spread.

Salama emphasized that the vaccination operation for Ebola is far more complex than that for orally-administered polio vaccine.

Ilunga said on Thursday that the risk to urban areas and cases among healthcare workers made the outbreak worrisome, and that health workers might be the priority for vaccination.

He said "We are also on a high alert; the ports, border officers as well as all the districts have been alerted to look out for the signs and symptoms of the virus".

Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama said the organisation was "preparing for the worst-case scenario".

"Public health emergency of worldwide concern" means an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations: "(i) to constitute a public health risk to other States through the global spread of disease and (ii) to potentially require a coordinated worldwide response".

But the villages at the heart of this outbreak are close to the banks of the Congo River, a major artery for trade and transport upstream from the capital Kinshasa.

The Wellcome funding will be made available to the DRC government and the World Health Organization as they seek to contain the outbreak's spread.

The WHO is still waiting on approval from the DRC to use the experimental Ebola vaccine, but plans for deployment are already under way as officials wait for a formal decision from the country's health ministry.

Binet said "the Congolese authorities, the World Health Organization, as well as MSF are already in discussion to have the vaccines available". The side effects were mostly mild. They will also receive a leaflet with information about Ebola and contact numbers of the surveillance officers. "In a vaccination trial during the West African Ebola virus epidemic, only 49 percent of individuals who had been in contact with Ebola virus patients could be vaccinated". "This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most hard terrains on earth", he said.

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