World Health Organization calls emergency meeting on Ebola


To tackle the epidemic and limit as much as possible the risk of it spreading, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is stepping up its response in the affected areas - Mbandaka and Bikoro. The new, urban case is only the third confirmed case of the current outbreak; 20 others are probable, and 21 are suspected, bringing the total of potential cases to 44.

Cases had previously only been confirmed in Bikoro, a small town whose health clinic only has "limited functionality", according to the WHO. Previously, infections and deaths had been limited to the rural Bikoro health zone, almost 150 kilometers away.

Amid fears of the outbreak spreading to neighboring countries, the United Nations migration agency said Friday it would support the deployment of Congolese health teams to 16 entry points along the nearby border with the Republic of Congo for infection control and prevention.

"This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola", said Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO. "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus".

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 raised its view of the risks after a case of Ebola was confirmed in the city of Mbandaka, which the agency said was "a large urban centre located on major national and worldwide river, road and domestic air routes".

DRC has entered a "new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Mr Ilunga said.

Ebola epidemics in Africa 1976-2017
Ebola epidemics in Africa 1976-2017

Ebola is one of the world's most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal.

The WHO and the global group, Doctors Without Borders, are sending emergency response teams to contain the highly contagious disease.

Why is the case in Mbandaka a concern? The vaccination campaign would first target health workers.

Ebola is notoriously hard to contain, though recent outbreaks in Congo have been managed swiftly by the WHO and Congolese health officials, gaining the government there a reputation as one of the continent's most prepared. WHO has therefore revised the assessment of public health risk to very high at the national level and high at the regional level.

World Health Organization sent the first 4000 vaccines to Kinshasa in DRC on Wednesday and another 4000 vaccines will be delivered to affected areas in the coming days.

Eleven people were treated for Ebola in the United States in 2014, two of whom died, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first human outbreaks of Ebola occurred in 1976, one in the north of what is now Congo and in the region that is now South Sudan.

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