19 dead, 39 infected in Congo Ebola outbreak: WHO

19 dead, 39 infected in Congo Ebola outbreak: WHO

In Summary

  • Between April and May, 19 people were infected with the virus and died.
  • 393 people identified as contacts of Ebola patients are being monitored.

Democratic Republic of Congo has reported 39 people suspected to be infected with Ebola virus.

Between April 4 and May 13, another 19 who were infected died, the World Health Organization has said.

393 people who identified as contacts of Ebola patients are being monitored, WHO added in a statement.

Information about the outbreak in Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata health zones in Equateur province is however still limited.

Currently, the outbreak does not meet the criteria for declaring a “public health event of international concern”.

This would have triggered the formation of an emergency WHO committee, the statement adds.

Meanwhile, WHO has been given the go-ahead by officials in the DRC to import and use an experimental Ebola vaccine in the country, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“We have agreement, registration, plus import permit, everything formally agreed already,” Tedros told reporters. “All is ready now to really use it.”

Vaccinations could begin by next Monday, he said.

The vaccine, developed by Merck in 2016, has proven safe and effective in human trials, but it is still experimental as it does not yet have a license.

It must be kept at -60 to -80 degrees Celsius (-76°F to -112°F), creating huge logistical challenges.

The shot, which was tested in Guinea in 2015 at the end of a vast Ebola outbreak in West Africa, is designed for use in a so-called “ring vaccination” approach.

This would mean that when a new Ebola case is diagnosed, all people who might have been in recent contact with them are traced and vaccinated to try and prevent the disease’s spread.

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