14 confirmed Ebola cases in Congo as World Health Organization holds emergency meeting

12 2018 health workers don protective clothing as they prepare to attend to patients in the isolation ward to diagnose and treat suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital in Bikoro the rural area where the Ebola out

Congo's Ebola risk 'very high' as confirmed virus cases rise

"So far, all of them have occurred in remote and isolated areas, as was the case past year in Likati, when the epidemic didn't spread." explains Henry Gray, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Mbandaka.

These would be given as a priority to people in Mbandaka who had been in contact with those suspected of carrying the Ebola virus before people in any other affected area, Mr Salama said.

Cases emerged in a rural area with one now confirmed in the city of Mbandaka. The meeting of the Emergency Committee will decide whether to declare an official public health emergency, which would trigger more worldwide involvement and free up more resources to deal with the outbreak.

"The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and World Health Organization and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area", said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa.

So far 23 people have reportedly died from the disease in the Congolese outbreak.

One sample proved positive for Ebola, he said.

Later on Friday, the WHO will convene an Emergency Committee of experts to advise on the worldwide response to the outbreak, and decide whether it constitutes a "public health emergency of global concern".

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

Mbandaka, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a population of about 1.2 million and is a hub for trade and travel in the absence of a functioning road network in the region. That new death had epidemiological ties to another case.

Vast, impoverished Congo has contained several past Ebola outbreaks but the spread of the hemorrhagic fever to an urban area poses a major challenge.

"Medical teams have been rushing to track down anyone thought to have had contact with infected people", says Time magazine, "while World Health Organization is shipping thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine".

There is no specific treatment for Ebola.

What makes this outbreak different from the one in 2014?

The WHO is sending 7,540 experimental vaccines to DRC, 4,300 of which have already arrived in the capital, Kinshasa, as part of a coordinated response to the outbreak. It said there has been one new death in Bikoro, where the Ebola outbreak was announced last week and where the first death took place.

This is Democratic Republic of Congo's ninth epidemic since the disease was identified in the 1970s, but also its most alarming because of the risk of transmission via regular river transport to the capital Kinshasa, a city of 10,000,000 people.

The disease causes internal bleeding and spreads rapidly through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid. Ebola is thought to be spread over long distances by fruit bats and is often transmitted to humans via contaminated bushmeat.

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