Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Congo confirms another Ebola case as outbreak hits 1-month mark

The death of Ebola Congo confirms another Ebola case as outbreak hits 1-month mark
Celia Hoffman | 10 June, 2018, 21:30

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has recorded its first confirmed case of Ebola in over a week, the health ministry said Thursday, although medics said they had made significant progress in their efforts to contain the disease. A further 14 are probable Ebola cases, and 10 more people are suspected of having Ebola. Over the past month, 27 of these individuals have died.

"The outbreak is ongoing", said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, in a webcast on Twitter.

"It's stabilising. We're optimistic, cautiously optimistic", World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Reuters.

The current outbreak is still on a low scale compared with a three-nation epidemic that occurred between 2013-15 but has stirred wide concern.

The DRC now has 38 confirmed cases of the virus, including 13 deaths, the country's health ministry said.

The outbreak, which began in the remote northwest and was declared in the town of Bikoro, has spread to the city of Mbandaka with a population of more than one million.

WHO has vaccinated more than 1,000 people over the past two weeks in all areas of the outbreak, including health workers who are at high risk.

It is the capital of Equateur province, where the small town of Bikoro also is located.

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WHO has been working with the Ministry of Health and global partners, including M-decins Sans Fronti-res (Doctors Without Borders) to inoculate only those people at high risk of infection: primary and secondary contacts. "And then if there is a confirmation of a case, every contact of those cases", he explained. The virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth.

Through this plan, WHO will closely work with the Ministries of Health and wider government stakeholders, the intersectoral and interagency mechanisms and partners and will leverage the emergency mechanisms in place including Emergency Medical Teams, Health Clusters, and GOARN.

Phase 2 of the vaccination campaign will turn the focus of the response to rural and isolated communities, "some of the most remote territories on earth" and home to "indigenous" and "marginalized" populations, he said.

While Ebola's spread to a major city has complicated efforts to track all contacts of those infected, the presence of the virus in Iboko poses another world of problems. Health workers monitor close contacts for 21 days and isolate them should they become ill.

The area had no infrastructure and could be covered only by motorbike, with several hours needed to trace every contact, he said. The infrastructure is only beginning to catch up, he added, with motorcycles arriving now.

Clinicians working in the treatment centres will make decisions on which drug to use as deemed helpful for their patients, and appropriate for the setting.

"I am confident that this Ebola outbreak will soon be contained", said Claude Jibidar, WFP's DRC Country Director.

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