World Health Organization to know soon if new Congo Ebola outbreak can use vaccine

World Health Organization to know soon if new Congo Ebola outbreak can use vaccine

This outbreak is more than 1,500 miles from the earlier one on the opposite side of the country.

Julie Hall, chief of staff at the International Federation of the Red Cross, said the Ebola response in North Kivu would be a "highly complex" operation.

The earlier outbreak was tackled with 3300 doses of an experimental new vaccine. Travel into and out of the village has been blocked.

The outbreak took place fewer than 12 months on from the DRC's previous Ebola scare, in May 2017, during which eight people were infected, four of whom died.

Twelve health ministry experts will arrive in Beni on Thursday, Ilunga added.

The announcement was issued just eight days after the Ministry of Health declared the official end of an Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province, some 2,500 kilometres from North Kivu.

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Ministry of Health informed the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday (August 1) of six possible cases, four of which have come back positive for Ebola virus, although the species responsible remains unclear.

"This new cluster is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were operating in the northwest", said Peter Salama, MD, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response.

The latest outbreak is the 10th in the DRC since 1976, when it was discovered in the north of the country, then called Zaire, and named after a river nearby.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola, and the virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain. "The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population".

Transmission among humans then typically spreads through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of someone who is sick with Ebola or has recently died. Beni has been the site of intense fighting in recent decades, and between 2014 and 2016, more than 800 people were killed in the area, many of them by machete.

Jose Barahona, Oxfam country director for the DRC, said the outbreak presented a serious risk to communities in Beni, where thousands of people are already facing hardship.

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