Ebola vaccine arrives in DR Congo amid outbreak

Ebola vaccine arrives in DR Congo amid outbreak

The latest outbreak of Ebola has spread to a large city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the country's health minister.

The outbreak, publicly declared on May 8, had previously been reported in a rural area of Equateur that lies roughly 150 kilometers from Mbandaka.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", he said, adding he is anxious because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province. Two brothers in Mbandaka who recently visited the outbreak's starting point in Bikoro town are probable cases, with samples awaiting laboratory confirmation.

He said scientists are working to identify the number of people who may have had contact with the virus, on top of the 500 already identified.

The latest outbreak is believed to have killed 23people so far in the country.

Senior World Health Organization (WHO) official, Peter Salama, said the spread to Mbandaka meant there was the potential for an "explosive increase" in cases.

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At least 42 people have now been infected and 23 people are known to have died.

This Ebola recurrence is the ninth DRC has faced in 4 decades after the first in 1976.

Ebola is a serious infectious illness that causes internal bleeding and often proves fatal.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

The World Health Organization says more doses "should be deployed in the coming days". "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus".

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