Alarm grows as Ebola is confirmed in Congo city of 1.2 million

Alarm grows as Ebola is confirmed in Congo city of 1.2 million

Emergency meeting called as Ebola spreads to Congolese city - United Nations health agency The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening an emergency meeting on Friday to "consider the global risks" of the latest outbreak of the deadly disease Ebola, which has now moved to an urban area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Previously, confirmed cases had been limited to a remote area more than 100 miles south of Mbandaka, in the rain forest of Congo's Equateur province.

One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Mbandaka, a city with a population of about 1.2 million, World Health Organization confirmed on Thursday, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.

According to the Ministry, "In total since the start of the epidemic, there have been 45 cases of hemorrhagic fever, including 10 suspected cases, 21 probable cases, and 14 confirmed cases", the ministry said in a statement on Friday. A concurrent but much smaller and unrelated Ebola outbreak took place in Congo in 2014 as well.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization informed about a new Ebola outbreak the DRC. So far, Congolese medics have identified 44 suspected cases of Ebola, with three confirmed by lab tests.

Congo's Ebola risk 'very high' as confirmed virus cases rise

Health Minister Oly Ilunga said of the current 25 deaths, only one has been confirmed as Ebola, adding that no new health professionals have been contaminated. Rapid detection of symptoms, immediate isolation of suspected cases and safe burial for those who succumb to the disease are paramount in ending an outbreak.

"We want to make sure we are engaging whole communities so that the broader community understands what we are doing and why", said Salama. But "urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do".

The city of nearly 1.2 million is on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor in the vast country and upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million. Tens of millions of people live along the river, and the capitals of Congo, Central African Republic, and the Republic of Congo lie along it and its tributaries.

Ebola is lethal and highly contagious, which makes it hard to contain - especially in urban environments where people are mobile and come into more contact with others. "All must be done to isolate the Ebola cases, especially since there has been a case in Mbandaka city", said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, who is also the EU Ebola Coordinator.

The DRC is at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. The last major outbreaks have affected people across West Africa between 2014 and 2016. AFP | Thousands of doses of Ebola vaccine arrived Wednesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is facing an outbreak of the deadly virus, the health ministry said.

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