Congo-Kinshasa: Ebola Outbreak in DRC - What Is Being Done?

Posted May 15, 2018

The idea is to vaccinate people who know someone who has been infected and the people who know those people, in an expanding "ring" around the infections.

Among the 5,837 people who received the vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, no one came down with Ebola 10 days after vaccination.

The health ministry said: "Our country is facing another epidemic of the Ebola virus, which constitutes an global public health emergency".

Congo first reported the outbreak, centred on the village of Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro, on Tuesday, with 32 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease, including 18 deaths since April 4.

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In an interview with The New Times on Monday, Dr. Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health said no signs of Ebola have so far been detected on Rwandan soil and that the ministry is working with different stakeholders to ensure citizens are protected from the outbreak.

The latest outbreak is occurring in the northwest of country, in the Bikoro health zone, 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) from Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province.

"This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic".

Only two cases have so far been confirmed in a laboratory.

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The WHO was widely criticised for reacting too slowly to the 2014-16 epidemic in West Africa.

World Health Organization has released $1 million USA dollars from the contingency fund for emergencies, the United Nations has released $2 million U.S. dollars from the Central Emergency Response Funds, and the Welcome Trust has provided 2 million pounds sterling for critical research needs.

The WHO said it has obtained 4,000 doses of Ebola vaccine and is preparing for deployment in the DRC, its Africa director said on Sunday. "This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most hard terrains on Earth", Salama said. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

An air bridge for supplies and personnel will be established by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) starting 13 May with daily flights scheduled from Kinshasa to Mbandaka and Mbandaka to Bikoro.

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Elsewhere in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Direct Relief is also supporting the efforts of Save the Children to respond to the needs of displaced people, and continues to be in dialogue with Congolese health authorities in terms of where best to meet health needs throughout the country.