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EAC states on high alert after DRC Ebola outbreak

18 May 2018

Ilunga said of the current 25 deaths, only one has been confirmed as Ebola, adding that no new health professionals have been contaminated.

WHO said health workers had identified 430 people who may have had contact with the disease and were working to trace more than 4,000 contacts of Ebola patients who had spread across north-west DR Congo.

It also raised the regional risk to "high" from "moderate", but kept its assessment of the global risk at "low".

Previous reports of the disease had all been in remote areas where Ebola might spread be more easily contained.

A panel will decide on Friday whether to declare a "public health emergency of worldwide concern", which would trigger a larger response.

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"One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of almost 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo", the UN's health agency said in a statement.

According to Seipone, symptoms of Ebola virus disease include a fever of acute onset (37.5oC) with unexplained bleeding tendencies from the nose (epistasis), gums, vagina, skin or eyes, bloody stools, vomiting and coughing blood, diarrhoea, deterioration of vision or decreased consciousness.

"This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic". But "urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do".

Dr Kok said the Interior ministry had been asked to restrict the movement of people and screen those entering South Sudan.

An outbreak in West Africa that began in 2014 left more than 11,000 dead across six countries, and was not declared officially over by World Health Organization until the beginning of 2016.

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The WHO said there had been 21 suspected, 20 probable and three confirmed cases of Ebola between April 4 and May 15, a total of 44 cases, including 15 deaths.

"This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola", said Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die.

The outbreak tests the new experimental Ebola vaccine, which proved highly effective in the West Africa outbreak a few years ago. One challenge will be keeping the vaccine cold in a region with poor infrastructure and patchy electricity.

The DRC is at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. The plan is to immunize the more than 500 contacts of infected people in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading.

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EAC states on high alert after DRC Ebola outbreak