Medicine

World Health Organization says Ebola outbreak has spread to a Congo city

World Health Organization says Ebola outbreak has spread to a Congo city

Congo's health minister says Ebola has spread to a city, the capital of Equateur province, a worrying shift in the new outbreak in the northwest.

"One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the 3 health zones of Mbandaka, a city of almost 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo", the UN's health agency said in a statement.

Senior World Health Organization (WHO) official, Peter Salama, said the spread to Mbandaka meant there was the potential for an "explosive increase" in cases. A total of 44 cases have now been reported, including 23 deaths, the World Health Organization reports. Ebola is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to neighbouring west African countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people out of almost 29,000 registered cases. He said epidemiologists are working to identify additional contacts to the 500 already identified.




The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was "high" and announced it was preparing for the "worst case scenario".

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in Congo since the disease made its first-known appearance near its northern Ebola river in the 1970s.

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

The experimental vaccine was shown to be highly effective in Guinea in 2015 during the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The vaccine will be reserved for people suspected of coming into contact with the disease, as well as health workers.