Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

World Health Organization convenes emergency meeting as Ebola spreads in DRC

World Health Organization convenes emergency meeting as Ebola spreads in DRC

The first 4,000 doses of experimental vaccine from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat the Ebola outbreak arrived on Wednesday in the national capital Kinshasa.

The WHO will be deploying about 30 experts to scrutinise and inspect the city, is working along with the Ministry of Health and also believes in engaging with the communities to prevent and treat and report about new cases.

It is noted that now the situation became much more serious after all, before the distribution occurred exclusively in rural areas, however, recent distribution already identified in the big city, namely in Equateur province, Mbandaka.

Botswana has issued a travel advisory informing its citizens not to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following confirmation of 17 Ebola virus-related deaths and 21 suspected cases in that country last week.

The reassessment came after the first confirmed case in Mbandaka, a city of around 1.5 million on the banks of the Congo River in the northwest of the country. That new death had epidemiological ties to another case.

The emergency meeting is to "consider the global risks" of the deadly Ebola virus disease, which has now moved to an urban area of DRC.

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Meanwhile, the public relations officer in the same ministry, Doreen Motshegwa, said their health officials are on high alert and have put measures in place to ward off the spread of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

On Wednesday more than 4,000 doses of an experimental vaccine sent by the World Health Organization arrived in Kinshasa with another batch expected soon. Ebola is a highly infectious disease spread through contact with even small amounts of bodily fluid of an infected person.

The EU funding announced today will ensure deployment of relevant surge capacity to the affected areas, surveillance and contact tracing of Ebola victims as well as active case finding for early detection of those infected.

The European Union has been providing humanitarian aid to the African country since 1994. The WHO has sent 4,000 doses to Congo and said it will dispatch thousands more as needed in the coming days.

Ebola is thought to be spread over long distances by fruit bats and is often transmitted to humans eating contaminated bushmeat - meat from wild animals such as monkeys or antelopes. It was tested in Guinea during the outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa from 2014 to 2016. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

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