New Ebola outbreak: World Health Organization scales up response in DRC

Democratic Republic of Congo

New Ebola outbreak: World Health Organization scales up response in DRC

In the Democratic Republic of Congo has announced a fresh outbreak of the deadliest Ebola almost 10 months after the previous outbreak.

The head of the national institute for biological research, Jean Jack Muyembe, said the cases had been reported in the northwestern town of Bikoro.

Stopping the virus from spreading further is now the top priority of the WHO.

Congo's health ministry on Tuesday, May 8, described the fresh outbreak as a "public health emergency with global impact".

"Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease", said Dr. Peter Salama, the WHO's Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Doctors Without Borders is one of the organizations who will assist the WHO, and the response will be modelled after the methods used in a 2017 Ebola outbreak that occurred in another DRC province.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.

Ebola, which has no proven cure, killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa from 2013-16 as it swept through Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Of the five samples analyzed, two were found to be positive for Ebola virus serotype Zaire by RT-PCR.

The deployment of "well-trained human resources" was made to "rapidly control" the outbreak, it said.

A multidisciplinary team of experts from World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Government has already been deployed to Bikoro to coordinate and strengthen the response, the organisation said.

Ebola takes its name from Congo's Ebola River, a tributary of the River Congo.

A new Ebola outbreak has killed 17 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo as of May 3.

Ebola is believed to be spread over long distances by bats, which can host the virus without dying, as it infects other animals it shares trees with such as monkeys.

It said it had released $1 million (840,000 euros) from an emergency contingency fund, set up a coordination group and deployed more than 50 experts to work with the DRC government and health agencies.

There are now no licensed treatments or vaccines for Ebola, although potential new therapies are now under development.

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