Congo warns of new phase in Ebola outbreak after first urban case

Henrietta Brewer
May 17, 2018

The city is a major transportation hub with routes to the capital Kinshasa, the BBC reports.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to neighbouring west African countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people out of almost 29,000 registered cases.

The Democratic Republic of Congo's new ebola outbreak has entered a "new phase", the country's health minister has announced.

Health minister Oly Ilunga said two suspected cases of haemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones - including in Mbandaka, a city of about 1.2 million people.

Before this announcement, all confirmed Ebola cases were reported in the Bikoro health zone, where health facilities are limited and affected areas are hard to reach.

He said scientists are working to identify the number of people who may have had contact with the virus, on top of the 500 already identified.

This Ebola recurrence is the ninth DRC has faced in 4 decades after the first in 1976.

Ebola is most feared for the internal and external bleeding it can cause in victims owing to damage done to blood vessels.

The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was "high" and announced it was preparing for the "worst case scenario".

The experimental vaccine was shown to be highly effective in Guinea in 2015 during the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

She says two cases of Ebola are confirmed, 20 are probable and 20 are suspected.

Supplies sent to Congo included more than 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities.

The vaccine requires storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees C, tricky in a country with unreliable electricity.

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