World Health Organization raises risk assessment of Congo's Ebola outbreak

World Health Organization raises risk assessment of Congo's Ebola outbreak

Currently, WHO said it considers the public health risk to be high at the national level, moderate at the regional level and low at the worldwide level. World Health Organization said it was deploying about 30 more experts to Mbandaka.

The fresh Ebola outbreak, publicly declared on May 8 with 23 deaths so far, was first reported in a rural part of Equateur Province in the vast country's northwest but has now spread to the city of Mbandaka.

Late Thursday, Congo's Ministry of Health announced 11 new confirmed Ebola cases and two deaths tied to cases in the country's northwest, including one in a suburb of Mbandaka.

These would be given as a priority to people in Mbandaka who had been in contact with those suspected of carrying the Ebola virus before people in any other affected area, Mr Salama said.

Ilunga said of the current 25 deaths, only one has been confirmed as Ebola, adding that no new health professionals have been contaminated. DRC's health ministry late Thursday said the total number of cases is 45, including 10 suspected and 21 probable ones.

"All must be done to isolate the Ebola cases, especially since there has been a case in Mbandaka city", said EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Christos Stylianides.

"This puts a whole different lens on this outbreak and gives us increased urgency to move very quickly into Mbandaka to stop this new first sign of transmission", he said.

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Until now, the outbreak was confined to remote areas, where Ebola, which is spread by bodily fluids, travels more slowly.

The Commission noted that the allocated funding would "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 WHO revised its assessment of the risk of spread of the epidemic to "very high" at the national level and "high" for neighboring countries.

The vaccine has been shown to be highly effective against Ebola. The virus was initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.

There is no licensed drug to treat or prevent Ebola, although an experimental vaccine arrived in the DRC on Wednesday and has been cleared for use by the Kinshasa government.

The virus is endemic to DRC, and causes an acute, serious illness, which is often fatal if untreated.

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