Health Care

DR Congo Ebola outbreak spreads to Mbandaka city

DR Congo Ebola outbreak spreads to Mbandaka city

The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has spread from the countryside into a city, prompting fears that the disease will be increasingly hard to control.

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

The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced the finding, after laboratory tests conducted by the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) confirmed one specimen as positive for EVD.

Three persons have died from the disease with 42 reported cases, including two confirmed, according to a World Health Organization tally.

Health officials hope the vaccine which will come into use for the first time since it was developed two years ago can contain the latest outbreak.

Ebola outbreak spreads to urban area as deaths mount

"Five thousand four hundred doses of vaccine arrived from Geneva this morning" said health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga.

At least 44 suspected cases have been registered since the beginning of the epidemic with 23 deaths including 1 confirmed Ebola death, according to the latest statistics from the Minister of Health. He said another 4,000-vaccine batch was expected soon. The vaccine will be reserved for people suspected of coming into contact with the disease, as well as health workers.

"The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area", said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

"We are now tracing more than 4,000 contacts of patients and they have spread out all over the region of northwest Congo, so they have to be followed up and the only way to reach them is motorcycles".

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