1 New Death From Ebola in Congo, Bringing Total to 26

Congo’s health ministry announced one new death from Ebola Sunday, bringing to 26 the number of deaths from the deadly outbreak in Equateur province in the country’s northwest.

Four new cases of the Ebola virus have been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to country’s health ministry most recent statement.

A total of 46 cases of the hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the current outbreak: 21 confirmed cases of Ebola, 21 probable and four suspected.

President Joseph Kabila and his Cabinet decided Saturday to increase funds for Ebola emergency response which amounts to more than $4 million.

Health Minister Oly Ilunga said late Friday the new cases of the often lethal virus were confirmed in Mbandaka city, a city of 1.2 million people where another case was confirmed days earlier.

The United Nations World Health Organization declined to declare the outbreak an international health emergency but said the risk of the virus spreading within the country was “very high.” The WHO said there was also a high risk of it spreading to nine neighboring countries but maintained there should be no travel or trade restrictions in the region.

A new, experimental vaccine is expected to be administered beginning early next week. The vaccine was effective in a West African outbreak a few years ago. Four-thousand doses are already in Congo and more shipments are enroute. Congolese health officials are challenged with keeping the vaccine cold in a large country where the infrastructure is in poor condition.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo in more than 40 years, but the earlier ones were limited to rural areas. There were two outbreaks in the capital of Kinshasa, which has a population of 10 million people, but they were quickly stopped.

There is no specific treatment for the virus, which is lethal and highly contagious. The latest virus is of the same strain that spread in three West African countries for two years beginning in 2013, creating global panic. By the time its spread was halted, the virus had killed more than 11,300 people, making it the most deadly Ebola outbreak ever.



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