Congo: 'New Phase' of Ebola, Virus Enters Urban City Mbandaka

Health workers don protective equipment at Bikoro Hospital in northwest DR Congo- the epicentre of the latest Ebola outbreak

Health workers don protective equipment at Bikoro Hospital in northwest DR Congo- the epicentre of the latest Ebola outbreak

The Democratic Republic of Congo's efforts to head off an Ebola epidemic is running into obstacles, with the announcement of the first registered urban case.

"This weekend, two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the health zone of Wangata, one of the health zones of Mbandaka City".

The World Health Organisation, which is deploying vaccines to the country, previously expressed its concerns of the disease reaching the city of Mbandaka. "Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases".

"We will intensify the monitoring and tracing of the population to all air, sea and road access routes".

This is the ninth time that the DRC has been dealing with the Ebola epidemic since 1976.

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Before the latest confirmed case, Peter Salama, the WHO's deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said the current number of suspected, probable or confirmed cases stood at 42, with 23 deaths attributed to the outbreak.

Thousands of doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine arrived in Congo's capital this week, the health ministry said Wednesday.

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 minister has confirmed that three case of Ebola have been detected so far in the urban area. He said another 4,000-vaccine batch was expected soon. The health body also sent 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities. After analysis, one of the two samples was positive, "said Congolese Minister of Health Orly Ilunga in a statement released late Wednesday night".

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