'Don't touch the bodies': Congo volunteers race to stop Ebola spreading

Ebony Scott
May 26, 2018

So far, 52 confirmed, likely or suspected cases of the deadly virus have been registered in DRC, including 22 deaths.

There are now 28 confirmed Ebola cases in the country -, 21 probable ones and two suspected, the health ministry said.

At least 27 people have been killed so far, including two who escaped quarantine in Mbandaka, a city of 1.5 million, where health experts fear the disease will be most hard to halt.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting in Geneva on Saturday that "I am personally committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to stop this outbreak as soon as possible".

Congo shares borders with nine nations, and World Health Organization has warned those countries to be on high alert for cases.

The top two priorities are Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo near the epicenter of the outbreak, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's director for Africa, told the WHA session.

The agency issued a new toll, saying there had been 58 cases since the outbreak was declared on May 8 - an increase of seven over figures issued on Tuesday - and said it was actively following more than 600 contacts.

Prototype vaccine will first be given to frontline health workers and then to people who have been in contact with Ebola cases.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo remains on an "epidemiological knife-edge" regarding the spread of the deadly Ebola disease, in spite of the quick response by authorities and worldwide partners to the threat, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

The proximity of the outbreak to neighbouring countries, especially through the river connection, was a major concern, he said.

"It is really the detective work of epidemiology that will make or break the response to this outbreak", he said.

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WHO said the mission led by Riek Gai Kok, the minister of health, updated the governor of the state of Yambio, cabinets, members of the parliament, United Nations agencies and NGOs including members of the public on how the EVD is transmitted and the preventive measures that can be taken such as sensitizing the community through mobile messaging and ongoing TV, radio and print mass traditional and non-traditional communication campaigns.

The article notes that Ebola is a "neglected tropical disease" since an effective vaccine is relatively new and the disease was discovered over 40 years ago. It takes a week to 10 days, said Dr Pierre Rollin, an epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a veteran of more than a dozen Ebola outbreaks.

This month marks the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo in four decades, with the most recent in May 2017.

The treatment is made from the antibodies of the survivor of an Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, Congo, in 1995.

The disease, which is transmitted through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids belonging to infected people or animals, is widely feared for its destructive internal and external bleeding due to the virus causing severe damage to blood vessels.

A third patient who left the facility Sunday night was about to be discharged, she said.

"An urban case means that it can spread quickly".

Two dozen vaccinators, including Congolese and Guineans who administered the vaccine in their country during the 2014-2016 outbreak, are in Mbandaka to start injecting the 540 doses that have arrived. The vaccine will also be given to people who have come in contact with those infected.

The report also pointed out that though the DRC situation isn't as dire as West Africa in 2014, the USA government hasn't designated a leader for its global outbreak response activities.

Health officials went to the church to vaccinate several people, according to the report.

Other reports by GizPress

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