Ebola outbreak spreads to DR Congo city

The latest outbreak of Ebola has spread to a large city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the country's health minister. The spread of the deadly virus from the countryside and into a city that is home to about a million people pushes the current outbreak into a "new phase", essentially making the efforts to contain the outbreak far harder. As per the report, epidemiologists are working to identify additional contacts to the 500 already identified.

"Five thousand four hundred doses of vaccine arrived from Geneva this morning" said health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga.

"We will intensify the monitoring and tracing of the population to all air, sea and road access routes".

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in the DRC.

Before Wednesday's announcement, there had been only two cases of the virus confirmed by lab tests.

He said one sample proved positive for the Ebola virus, meaning there have now been three confirmed cases in three different health zones.

The first batch of 4,000 doses of vaccine was already being flown to Kinshasa, and the World Health Organization plans to send a second batch of 4,000 doses in coming days, World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. Vaccine for curing Ebola has not been discovered yet.

Congo has reported 23 deaths among the 44 suspected, probable and confirmed cases. The health body also sent 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities.

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. Health workers would be among the first to receive vaccinations, according to Ilunga.

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

  • Santos West