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

Congo warns of

The WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses of the vaccine in Geneva; the company also has 300,000 doses of the vaccine stockpiled in the United States.

According to the latest World Health Organization statistic, 32 cases (two confirmed cases, 18 probable and 12 suspects), including 18 deaths, 1 confirmed Ebola death, were recorded between 4 April and 9 May in Bikoro.

The WHO is anxious about the disease reaching the city of Mbandaka with a population of about 1 million people, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement. So far, more than 500 people have been identified. "The remaining 12 cases are suspected..."

According to her, unless hospitals are prepared properly and equipped with Ebola vaccines, it will be an epidemic Nigeria may be unable to take on.

The vaccines were sent to the Central African country by the World Health Organisation and health officials have said that vaccination would start during the weekend. Merck has given its permission for the vaccine to be used in this outbreak.

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"If it also protects against the strain of the virus that now is active in the Congo, it could play a major role in ending the outbreak". While none has been connected to the one in West Africa, the experimental vaccine is thought to be effective against the Zaire strain of Ebola found in Congo.

And Kenya, which does not border the country, had issued warnings over the possible spread of Ebola.

Patta also reports that a crucial difference between the two outbreaks is the speed at which worldwide agencies have responded. As it stands, $1 billion of Congress' budget put aside to fight the 2015 Ebola outbreak is unlikely to be maintained after 2019 and President Donald Trump's most recent budget proposal has indicated funding reductions for foreign aid.

The outbreak is centred around the remote town of Bikoro in the province of Equateur, which has 31 of the cases and 274 contacts.

As of 13 May, there is a cumulative total of 41 cases, including 20 deaths (case fatality rate = 48.8%) and three healthcare workers from Bikoro (n=2) and Iboko (n=1).

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