World Health Organization to ship Ebola vaccine to DR Congo

Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

World Health Organization to ship Ebola vaccine to DR Congo

Last week, the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new Ebola virus disease outbreak, confirming two laboratory-tested cases. The remaining 12 cases are suspected.

"The WHO is strengthening its presence, positioning a dozen epidemiologists who will be divided on the axes of Mbandaka, Bikoro and Iboko to investigate alerts", its Congo representative, Allarangar Yokouide, said.

A further 362 people at risk have been identified using contact tracing, said Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO regional emergency director for Africa.

W.H.O's director-general Tedros Adhanon Ghebryeyesus has visited the region, where 35 suspected cases have been reported so far, more than half of them fatal.

WHO officials noted that the outbreak is now rated a "high" public health risk at the national level, "moderate" at the regional level, and "low" risk at the global level, with assessments ongoing.

Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the World Health Organization, pointed out that use of the vaccine comes with many challenges, as it needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit). "All is ready now to really use it", he said, adding that the Congolese government deserved praise for its response to the outbreak.

Ghebreyesus said that the organisation and its partners were also working with national health authorities to contain the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo.

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In addition, an experimental ebola vaccine, which was developed during the 2014 to 2016 Ebola epidemic but was too late to make an impact, will be deployed by the World Health Organization in the DRC.

"We are very concerned and planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario", Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, said at a United Nations briefing in Geneva Friday, according to Reuters.

WHO is deploying 50 public health experts to support the Ministry of Health with response activities. Wangata health zone is adjacent to the provincial port city of Mbandaka (population 1.2 million).

There is no current vaccine to prevent Ebola or licensed treatment for it.

Finally, News Agency of Nigeria reported that a passenger at Uganda's Entebbe International Airport is being held in isolation in an Entebbe hospital after showing some symptoms of Ebola virus disease.

The passenger was on Saturday isolated after he developed fever and high temperature. Officials said the man lost his wife 3 weeks ago, but details about her death are unknown at this time.

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