Ebola cases on rise, reach 14 in DRC

Kinshasa: The number of confirmed Ebola cases of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has risen to 14 after the Health Ministry announced 11 new confirmed cases and one new related death.

A government statement late on Thursday said the 11 new confirmed cases and one new related death were reported in the town of Bikoro in Equateur, where the Ebola outbreak was officially announced on May 8 by authorities. It said the new death has epidemiologic ties to another case. Another lethal case in Wangata on Thursday was a suspected one, Xinhua news agency reported.

The government statement said the total number of Ebola cases is now 45, including 10 suspected cases, 21 probable cases and 14 confirmed cases.

The Ebola outbreak in the DRC has entered a “new phase” after it spread to a large city, Health Minister Oly Ilunga said on Wednesday.

The new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Congo, the World Health Organization confirmed Thursday, CNN reported.

The spread of the virus from rural areas into a city has raised fears it could quickly spread and become harder to control. A newly confirmed case in a densely populated part of the country will complicate attempts to control the outbreak, the statement said.

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

The first 4,000 doses of experimental vaccine from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat the Ebola outbreak arrived on Wednesday in the national capital Kinshasa.

The Ebola vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV — has been shown to be safe in humans and highly effective against the virus, according to the WHO. The vaccination campaign would first target health workers.

The DRC is at its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976. Ebola is a highly infectious disease spread through contact with even small amounts of bodily fluid of an infected person. Its early flu-like symptoms are not always easily detected.