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DR Congo: Ebola epidemic enters ‘new phase’ as third case confirmed

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A third case of Ebola has been confirmed in Congo, the World Health Organization said Thursday, detected for the first time in a large urban centre, the north-west city of Mbandaka.

“The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Forty-four people are now suspected of having been infected with Ebola, three of which are confirmed.

“We are now entering a new phase of the epidemic which is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement. Mbandaka is a city of over a million people.

On Wednesday more than 5,000 Ebola vaccines arrived in Congo as part of the UN’s efforts to stem the outbreak in the central African country.

The vaccine is the same experimental substance that has been proved to be safe and effective in a trial among 7,500 people in Guinea in 2015.

Guinea, along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, were at the centre of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed 11,000 people.

In the current outbreak, the WHO has said it is worried that the highly infectious and deadly haemorrhagic fever could spread from Congo to neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African Republic.

dpa

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