One new Ebola death confirmed in Congo, bringing total to 12

Ebola outbreak 2018: Two infected patients flee treatment center in Congo

Two dying Ebola patients were spirited out of a Congo hospital by their relatives on motor-bikes, then taken to a prayer meeting with 50 other people, potentially exposing them all to the deadly virus, a senior aid worker said on Thursday.

A resident speaks to a medical worker through a cordon ribbon, near the isolation facility prepared to receive suspected Ebola cases, at the Mbandaka General Hospital, in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 20, 2018.

Another left on Saturday, but was found alive the same day and is now under observation, Gray added.

Three health care workers were among the 58 cases reported.

Seven new confirmed cases have been registered in Bikoro, the ministry said, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 28. It was the first time in the current outbreak that a case was detected and confirmed in an urban health zone, with all other cases reported in remote, rural areas of Equateur province.

"We are on the epidemiological knife edge of this response", he added at the United Nations body's annual assembly.

"The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we are going to be able to keep it under control", said Salama.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and, as the disease worsens, it can cause vomiting diarrhea, rash and bruising or bleeding without an injury. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 per cent of cases, depending on the strain.

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Health officials say they face a huge significant mistrust especially as many place more faith in clerics in white collars rather than doctors in white coats.

A spokesman for World Health Organization told Daily Star Online: "The appearance of a confirmed case in Mbandaka is very concerning".

When Ebola hit West Africa in 2014, some of the obstacles that impeded the medical response included lack of trust among communities dealing with outbreaks and religious practices - such as washing the body of the dead - that spread the disease, which is contagious through bodily fluids. As of this week, the World Health Organization said 628 such contacts had been listed in Congo. "It's documenting how people are getting infected and therefore managing to control the transmission", he said. "It is normal for people to want the loved ones to be at home during what could be the last moments of life".

In an address to the WHA today, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar commended the DRC for its vigorous response to the outbreak. Vaccination of high-risk populations began earlier this week in the affected area of the country, a densely forested area covering hundreds of kilometres and which is largely without roads or electricity.

At the central market in Mbandaka, where vendors in colourful fabrics hawk smoked monkeys, some residents said they were unmoved by warnings not to consume bush meat since a case of Ebola was discovered in the city of 1.5 million last week. Improving access to safe, effective, affordable medicines, vaccines and other health products is key to achieving universal health coverage, and is one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

"The vaccination campaign is first and foremost for medical staff and people who have been in contact with laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola", says Jean-Jacques Muyembe, a virologist, an expert on Ebola and director of the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB) in Kinshasa.

"It is a very concerning situation".

"We started vaccination on Monday, so we are really doing our best. Our job is to do this as fast as we can". It's really hard to speculate (on) how the outbreak can evolve.

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