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Congo warns of 'new phase' in Ebola outbreak after first urban case

17 May 2018

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement.

This Ebola recurrence is the ninth DRC has faced in 4 decades after the first in 1976.

The Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday received thousands of Ebola vaccines after it was recently struck by the deadly disease, the health ministry has said. A first batch of 4,000 inoculations has arrived in the capital Kinshasa, with another 4,000 to follow soon after.

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At least 23 people have died in Congo's latest outbreak, which had originally been detected in only rural areas - which would have given health officials a better chance of fencing off the spread of Ebola.

The swift response to quickly tackle the outbreak is in contrast to the response to the 2014 outbreak, when global agencies and governments were criticized for their slow response.

Health Ministry said vaccinations would start at weekend, first time vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.

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The World Health Organisation, which is deploying vaccines in the country, had expressed concern about the disease reaching the north-western city, which would make the outbreak, already believed to have killed 23 people, far harder to tackle.

This new case is linked with the epicenter of the epidemic in Equateur province, east of Lake Tumba, and it is in addition to the 42 people who have presented symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in Bikoro district-including two confirmed as Ebola, 20 probable, and 20 suspected cases.

The vaccine requires storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees C, tricky in a country with unreliable electricity.

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Congo warns of 'new phase' in Ebola outbreak after first urban case