Ebola Virus Returns: Latest Outbreak in Congo Kills 17

Democratic Republic of Congo

Seventeen people in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have died from Ebola, the health ministry said on Tuesday, describing the fresh outbreak as a "public health emergency with worldwide impact".

The Ministry of Health of Democratic of the Congo (DRC) informed WHO that two out of five samples collected from five patients tested positive for EVD at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa.

The team found 5 cases, 2 of whom were hospitalized at Bikoro General Hospital and 3 at the Ikoko Impenge Health Center.

The government also made a decision to deploy on Wednesday a team of experts from the central level from Kinshasa to Bikoro with a set of appropriate equipment to oversee the investigations and the organization of the response on field.

This is the ninth outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in Congo since 1976.

The Ikoko Impenge health facility, about 30 kilometres from Bikoro, has limited capabilities, relying on worldwide organisations, WHO said.

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The virus is handed on by contact with bodily fluids - touching a sick or dead person is a well-known source of infection. The brand new instances had been reported from a small well being facility about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Bikoro.

World Health Organization said it would adopt the strategy it successfully deployed following a similar Ebola outbreak in 2017, which included a timely alert by local authorities when new cases surface. Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people and is fatal in up to 90 per cent of cases.

Peter Salama, MBBS, MPH, WHO deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said in the statement that the top priority is to get to Bikoro to work with the DRC government and its partners to reduce deaths and illnesses related to the new Ebola outbreak.

It said it had released $1 million (840,000 euros) from an emergency contingency fund, set up a coordination group and deployed more than 50 experts to work with the DRC government and health agencies.

Ebola is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

An effective response to the 2017 EVD outbreak was achieved through the timely alert by local authorities of suspect cases, immediate testing of blood samples due to strengthened national laboratory capacity, the early announcement of the outbreak by the government, rapid response activities by local and national health authorities with the robust support of worldwide partners, and speedy access to flexible funding.

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