Ebola Deaths Hit 27 in Congo, Vaccinations Start

Federico Mansilla
May 23, 2018

The death toll from the latest outbreak in DR Congo rose to 26 on Monday, as the government began vaccinating first responders to block the spread of the disease.

Among the reasons Ebola spread fast across West Africa during the 2014 outbreak - killing more than 11,300 and infecting 28,000 - was a lack of public knowledge about how the virus is transmitted and what the people can do to protect themselves. Ihekweazu, who noted that vaccines had been made available to the DR Congo to contain the disease within the affected areas, said passenger screenings for Ebola at the airports, with special focus on flights inbound from East and Central Africa, have been stepped up. "One of the lessons we learned in our response to other deadly Ebola outbreaks is that complacency can kill".

Congolese health ministry data show four cases of Ebola confirmed in Mbandaka's Wangata neighbourhood and two suspected cases.

The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Monday said DR Congo players would be screened for Ebola on arrival in the country ahead of their friendly match against the Super Eagles in Port Harcourt on Monday.

"We have established surveillance mechanisms and are following all cases and contacts", he said. "The response is well-organised because we have also put in surveillance measures at the entry and exit points of Mbandaka".

"Staff and volunteers are promoting accurate and timely information that helps people to take precautions and reduce their risk of contracting or transmitting the virus", Overcamp told CNA.

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Congo President Joseph Kabila and his Cabinet agreed Saturday to increase funds for the Ebola emergency to more than $4 million.

While Congo has contained several Ebola outbreaks in the past, all of them were based in remote rural areas.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains and occasional bleeding, and it is primarily spread through contact with bodily fluids. The disease is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. "It's an important moment that changes the way we've seen Ebola for 40 years". I want to applaud the Minister of Health of the DRC for his exemplary leadership in managing this current outbreak so far. "We're not recommending any additional border intervention or enhanced screening at the moment".

The vaccination campaign eventually will move to cover the two other health zones where confirmed cases have been reported.

Dalung disclosed this in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the nation's preparedness for the friendly match and World Cup in Russian Federation next month.

He also said ensuring that the match was allowed to take place had become compelling because its cancellation might be counter-productive for the country in future.

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