Emergency meeting called as Ebola spreads to Congolese city


Commissioner Stylianides has been closely monitoring the situation and has been in contact with the WHO General Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Micaela Serafini, a medical director for the global charity Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who is helping coordinate the response to the Congo outbreak, said its teams are planning for at least 45 minutes of discussion and information-sharing with each person, with a translator present, before signed consent would be obtained.

Ebola has twice made it to Congo's capital in the past and was rapidly stopped.

Moreover, WHO has deployed 4,000 experimental Ebola vaccines in DRC and more of the vaccines should reach DRC in the coming days.

More doses of vaccine are expected to be shipped out, a World Health Organization spokesman said earlier in the week. Limited communications, health facilities and electricity, as well as the need to keep the vaccine in a "cold chain" at -60 to -80 degrees Celsius will also present challenges.

The World Health Organisation is racing to prevent a runaway Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since the outbreak began, there has been a total of 45 cases: 14 confirmed, 21 probable and 10 suspected. This new case is linked with the epicentre of the epidemic, the east of Lake Tumba. An IFRC spokeswoman said the organization is "kick-starting its response" using stocks of medicine, disinfectant and informational posters left over from last year's outbreak. It is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Mbandaka. The other death was a suspected case in Wangata, a suburb of Mbandaka on the Congo River, the ministry said. But "urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do". Ebola is a highly infectious disease spread through contact with even small amounts of bodily fluid of an infected person.

Doctors Without Borders said 514 people believed to have been in contact with infected people were being monitored.

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The city of about one million people is a transport hub on the Congo River, prompting fears that the virus could now spread further, threatening the capital Kinshasa and surrounding countries.

A newly confirmed case in a densely populated part of the country will complicate attempts to control the outbreak.

The U.N. children's agency said it was mobilizing hundreds of community workers to raise awareness on protection against the disease.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified. The virus initially is transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola.

First symptoms generally include the sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, and this is followed by vomiting and diarrhoea.

Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.