New Ebola outbreak kills 20 in Congo

Four out of six samples sent to the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa tested positive for Ebola

On 1 August 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after confirming four new cases in the Mangina area, in the territory of Beni, North Kivu.

Four cases of the virus were confirmed in northeastern North Kivu province, the DRC's health minister said in a statement on Wednesday, though there was no indication they were linked to the country's previous - and ninth - Ebola outbreak in northwestern Equateur Province. An additional 20 people have died in the area since July, as a result of hemorrhagic fevers that have not been identified as Ebola. A vaccine manufactured by Merck helped contain the virus, and the project was declared a success despite the deaths. "The risk is high at the country level, high at the regional level and low at a global level", he said.

"We are talking about tens of kilometres but I stress that this is very preliminary information at this stage".

World Health Organization says this new outbreak in North Kivu province is 2,500 kilometers away from Equateur Province, the site of the previous outbreak, and there is no link between the two.

Ebola is believed to be transported long by bats and can find its way into bush meat sold at local markets.

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This latest outbreak poses various challenges for the WHO. Eastern Congo is a tinderbox of conflicts over land and ethnicity stoked by decades of on-off war and this could hamper efforts to contain the virus.

If it is the Zaire strain, the Merck vaccine used in the last outbreak may be an option, otherwise the situation will be much more complex "and we may not have any vaccine options", he told Reuters at WHO's headquarters in Geneva.

This should allow health officials to again use what has become the greatest weapon against Ebola epidemics to date.

Government officials said at least 20 people died in nine days after showing symptoms of haemorrhagic fever in and around the village of Mangina. The province shares borders with Rwanda and Uganda, with a lot of cross border movement due to brisk trade. We installed chlorinated water points in hospitals, health centers, schools and ports, and helped to disinfect houses in which Ebola cases have been detected.

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