Ebola Vaccine Land DR. Congo

Ebola outbreak spreads to urban area as deaths mount

"Five thousand four hundred doses of vaccine arrived from Geneva this morning" said health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga.

"One new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the 3 health zones of Mbandaka, a city of almost 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo", the UN's health agency said in a statement.

Voice of America reports, "The vaccine, developed by Merck and sent from Europe by the World Health Organization, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014-2016".

At least 23 people have died in Congo's latest outbreak, which had originally been detected in only rural areas - which would have given health officials a better chance of fencing off the spread of Ebola.

Congo's health minister says Ebola has spread to a city, the capital of Equateur province, a worrying shift in the new outbreak in the northwest.

The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was "high" and announced it was preparing for the "worst case scenario". "Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases".

"In our experience, for each confirmed case of Ebola there are about 100-150 contacts and contacts of contacts eligible for vaccination", Jasarevic said.

The vaccine is complicated to use, requiring storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius. Two brothers in Mbandaka who recently visited the outbreak's starting point in Bikoro town are probable cases, with samples awaiting laboratory confirmation.

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