WHO chief says Ebola outbreak in Congo is stabilising

Sunday, 10 Jun, 2018

In all, the ministry has recorded 38 confirmed, 14 probable and 10 suspected cases, including 27 deaths.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has vaccinated more than 1,000 people over the past two weeks, including health workers who are at high risk.

Ebola is back. The disease that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa just a few years ago has returned, striking the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"Phase one, to protect urban centers and towns, has gone well and we can be cautiously optimistic". Health workers also have been chasing contacts of those infected in Mbandaka city, a provincial capital on the heavily traveled Congo River, and in Bikoro town where the outbreak was declared.

Beginning with the 1976 discovery of Ebola in an area that is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country has experienced nine outbreaks.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro", he said.

"The latest case, confirmed on Thursday, was in the remote Iboko health zone in the northwest, an indication that the outbreak is ongoing, he said".

An AP report Friday quoted DRC's health ministry saying another Ebola case had been confirmed even as the pace of new cases slows down. "We've reached the majority of contacts - more than 98% - with vaccination. and we believe these contacts are now protected against Ebola", he said.

He said the focus now was on rural isolated communities in the Iboko health zone which would present logistical and other challenges.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak". It's a "major boots on the ground" effort that takes several hours to trace each and every contact, he said.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health approved the use of these experimental treatments, some used on patients in past outbreaks, during the current outbreak. No matter how long this Ebola outbreak continues, the world faces critical tests in its battle against deadly pathogens. "But we know to never underestimate Ebola".