Number of confirmed Ebola cases in DR Congo rises to 14 as outbreak spreads

Updated 2018-05-18 13:33:06 Xinhua

The number of confirmed Ebola cases of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has added up to 14 after the Health Ministry announced 11 new confirmed cases and one new related death in the country's northwest as the lethal infectious disease spreads.

A ministry statement late Thursday said the 11 new confirmed cases and one new related death were reported in the town of Bikoro in Equateur Province, where the first death took place.

It said the new death has epidemiologic ties to another case. Another lethal case in Wangata on Thursday was a suspected one.

The statement said the total number of Ebola cases is now 45, including 10 suspected cases, 21 probable cases and 14 confirmed cases.

Health Minister Oly Ilunga said of the current 25 deaths, only one has been confirmed as Ebola, adding that no new health professionals have been contaminated.

On Wednesday, the minister said the Ebola outbreak in the DRC entered a "new phase" following the first reported case of the deadly virus in the northwestern city of Mbandaka, with a population of some 1 million.

Mbandaka is a major transportation hub with routes to the capital Kinshasa. Located on the banks of the Congo River, the Republic of Congo is on the other side of the river. The city is about 150 km from Bikoro, the rural area where the Ebola outbreak was officially announced on May 8 by authorities.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone," Ilunga said.

The first 4,000 doses of experimental vaccine from the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the Ebola outbreak arrived Wednesday in Kinshasa, the country's capital.

Senior WHO official Peter Salama said another 4000-vaccine batch will arrive soon.

The vaccine, developed by Merck and Co Inc, is still not licensed but has proved effective during limited trials in West Africa during the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016.

The Ebola vaccination campaign will first target health workers.

The DRC is at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. Ebola is a highly infectious disease spread through contact with even small amounts of bodily fluid of an infected person. Its early flu-like symptoms are not always easy to detect.

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