The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has spread from the countryside into a city, prompting fears that the disease will be increasingly hard to control. Health Minister Oly Ilunga late Wednesday said two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones, which includes Mbandaka city, about 93 miles from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak began.
At least 42 people have now been infected and 23 people are known to have died.
WHO is deploying around 30 experts to conduct surveillance in the city and is working with the Ministry of Health and partners to engage with communities on prevention and treatment and the reporting of new cases. Sent by the World Health Organization, the vaccine is still not licensed but proved effective in the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. After analysis, one of the two samples was positive, "said Congolese Minister of Health Orly Ilunga in a statement released late Wednesday night".
Until now, all the confirmed Ebola cases were reported from Bikoro health zone, which is also in Equateur Province but at a distance of almost 150 km from Mbandaka.
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The announcement came just as thousands of doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine arrived in the country, with vaccinations expected to commence this coming weekend.
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.
"We are now tracing more than 4,000 contacts of patients and they have spread out all over the region of northwest Congo, so they have to be followed up and the only way to reach them is motorcycles".