Medicine

Ebola Outbreak Spreads as WHO Holds Emergency Meeting

Ebola Outbreak Spreads as WHO Holds Emergency Meeting”

Health officials hope the vaccine which will come into use for the first time since it was developed two years ago can contain the latest outbreak.

"One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three 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.

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

"Over the next few days we will be reassessing the projected numbers of cases that we might have and then if we need to bring in more vaccine we will do so in a very short notice".

Until now, all the confirmed Ebola cases were reported from Bikoro health zone, which is also in Equateur Province but at a distance of almost 150 km from Mbandaka.

An expert committee will decide in its emergency meeting on Friday whether to declare a "public health emergency of global concern", which would trigger more worldwide involvement, mobilizing research and resources, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

"In our experience, for each confirmed case of Ebola there are about 100-150 contacts and contacts of contacts eligible for vaccination", Jasarevic said.

Before this announcement, all confirmed Ebola cases were reported in the Bikoro health zone, where health facilities are limited and affected areas are hard to reach.

The vaccine requires storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees C, tricky in a country with unreliable electricity.

The outbreak was first spotted in the Bikoro zone, which has 31 of the cases and 274 contacts.

Confirming the reports, the country's Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said that at least a case has been witnessed in Mbandaka, a city with a population of one million people.

World Health Organization estimates that no less than 39 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of Ebola have been recorded in the DRC between April 4 and May 13.



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