Congo, UN deploy specialists to tackle Ebola epidemic

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki /FILE

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki /FILE

The WHO said it has obtained 4,000 doses of Ebola vaccine and is preparing for deployment in the DRC, its Africa director said on Sunday.

On Sunday, a World Health Organization delegation including the agency's director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gehbreyesus, visited the town of Bikoro, the center of the current outbreak.

It said 393 people who identified as contacts of Ebola patients were being followed up. She added that two of those contacts had got to the provincial capital, Mbandaka.

Congo first reported the outbreak, centred around the village of Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro, on Tuesday, with 32 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease, including 18 deaths since April 4.

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The disease - most feared for the internal and external bleeding it can cause in its victims owing to damage done to blood vessels - has already spread to three separate locations covering 60 km (37 miles) or more in Equateur province.

The current outbreak is unrelated to the one in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that killed more than 11,000 people in 2014 and 2015. The affected area is remote with limited communication and poor transportation infrastructure.

They adduced the recent outbreak of the dreaded Ebola virus in the East African country as reason for their desire to have the global friendly called-off.

The DRC is now in its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. "Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the DRC and partners to reduce the loss of life and suffering related to this new Ebola virus disease outbreak", said Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response.

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