Spread Of Ebola In Congo A 'Game Changer'

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The virus's presence is unsafe there because Mbandaka is a port on the Congo River, about three hundred miles upstream from the capital Kinshasa.

With the confirmation of the Ebola case, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the country's minister of health, announced that the outbreak has spread to a "new phase" because an "urban health zone" is now affected by the disease. Tens of millions of people live along the river, and the capitals of Congo, the Central African Republic and Congo Republic lie along it and its tributaries.

Until now, all the confirmed Ebola cases were reported from Bikoro health zone, which is also in Equateur Province but at a distance of almost 150 km from Mbandaka. Laboratory tests on two samples from Wangata confirmed one specimen as positive for Ebola, while the other was negative.

The risk of spread of the Ebola haemorrhagic fever epidemic in the northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is very high across the country, according to authorities and analysts interviewed by Xinhua. And until now, all the confirmed cases of Ebola were in Bikoro health zone, some 90 miles south of Mbandaka.

"We are moving to a new phase of the epidemic", Ilunga says. He said epidemiologists are working to identify additional contacts to the 500 already identified.

The World Bank's IDA-financed health system investments in DRC total Dollars 400 million and target 11 out of 26 provinces in the country, including Equateur, the province now most affected by the outbreak. Health officials have identified 42 suspected, probable and confirmed cases, and 23 people have died.

Those exposed to the suspected Ebola cases will for the first time in Congo receive Ebola vaccinations, the health minister said.

The other Ebola cases were spread across sites in remote areas where the disease might not travel quickly.

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And now global health experts are rushing to get the vaccine into Congo.

World Health Organization has sent 4 000 doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine to DRC and said it will send thousands more in the coming days as needed. Thousands more were expected to arrive in the coming days. As Megan Jula explains in Mother Jones, the vaccine works by "trick [ing] the body into thinking it has been infected with Ebola and launching an immune response".

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. The vaccine, produced by the pharmaceutical giant Merck, is not yet licensed, although the World Health Organization has cleared it for "compassionate use".

Patients' may bleed internally, or bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.

"They need to be activated across the province and even beyond".

A handout photograph released by UNICEF on May 13, 2018 shows health workers wearing protective equipment as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, May 12, 2018.

Several tons of supplies are en route to the region, according to a statement from Médecins Sans Frontières, including "protection and disinfection kits containing isolation items such as protective clothing, gloves and boots; logistical and hygiene kits containing items such as plastic sheets, chlorine spray kits and water treatment kits; and palliative drugs to treat Ebola symptoms, such as strong painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and antibiotics". The violence was sparked by existing tensions between customary chiefs in Kasai-Central Province and the government in 2016, but the widening conflict has since pulled in militias, armed groups and security forces across an area the size of Germany.

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