'High regional risk' likely due to Congo Ebola outbreak, says WHO

Health workers at an Ebola safety zone in a health centre in Iyonda DRC

A UNICEF staffer talks with members of an Ebola vaccination team as they prepare to administer the vaccine during the previous Ebola outbreak in Congo in May.

"On discharge (she) came down with a fever and other symptoms that were clinically consistent with Ebola", WHO's emergency response chief Peter Salama told reporters in Geneva.

The organization's emergency response chief, Peter Salama, expressed concern about the regional risks this outbreak could pose - given the pattern of its spread and its closeness to global frontiers.

The North Kivu outbreak comes just over a week after Congo had declared the end of an outbreak in the northwest of the country that began in May, and in which 33 people died.

"This is the second outbreak of Ebola in DRC we have seen this year".

"It would appear that the risk, as we can surmise for DRC, is high".

The World Health Organization (WHO) has dispelled the notion that the two outbreaks are linked. "She had fever, vomiting, bloody nose and bloody diarrhoea as her final set of symptoms".

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Four people have tested positive for Ebola in and around Mangina, a town of about 60,000 people in North Kivu province, some 100 km from the Ugandan border.

Still, this outbreak poses new challenges.

The vaccine in question is manufactured by Merck, the minister said.

The outbreak in northwestern Congo also belonged to the Zaire strain and an experimental vaccine from pharmaceutical company Merck was used to fight its spread. "This may involve the quick delivery of support, clean water and information, as well as assisting with the safe and dignified burials of people who have died which is critical for containing the spread of the virus".

This should allow health officials to again use what has become the greatest weapon against Ebola epidemics to date.

About 1,000 civilians have been killed by armed groups and government soldiers around Beni since 2014, and the wider region of North Kivu holds over one million displaced people.

"We really need to get into the area to do epidemiological investigations, try to find cases, try to work with health workers, to strengthen infection prevention and control measures and also to start with the contact tracing", he said.

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