The World Health Organization’s efforts to curb the spread of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are on a war footing ahead of an emergency meeting it has called for to discuss international risks, Reuters reported. WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said the meeting was scheduled to be held later on Friday.
This is the African country’s ninth outbreak since the disease was identified in the 1970s. More than 11,300 people died in an Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, according to WHO. Ebola is a highly infectious and often fatal disease. The illness causes internal bleeding and is easily transmitted through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid. Its flu-like symptoms make it hard to diagnose.
Officials said there are 44 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of Ebola and that 23 people have died have died so far. One case has been confirmed in Mbandaka a city of around 1 million is top priority as it is connected to the capital of Kinhasa, a city of 10 million increasing the transmission risk significantly and giving rise to the fear that the outbreak to turn into an epidemic.
“Overnight, Mbandaka has become the number one priority for preventing this outbreak from getting out of control,” said Peter Salama, the organisation’s medical emergency programme head. Salama said the development calls for a change in approach, Reuters reported. The organisation is working on ways to keep the newly arrived vaccines at the required below freezing temperatures in the humid country that struggles with power outages.