World Health Organization convenes emergency meeting as Ebola spreads in DRC

Congo's Ebola risk 'very high' as confirmed virus cases rise

Congo Confirms 14 More Ebola Virus Cases

"The confirmed case in Mbandaka, a large urban center located on major national and global river, road and domestic air routes increases the risk of spread within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to neighboring countries", the statement said.

Health minister Riek Gai Kok announced on Thursday that the risk of the Ebola spread to South Sudan was high due to the proximity between the two countries. The Republic of Congo and Central African Republic are nearby.

WHO's deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, Peter Salama, had told reporters on Thursday that the risk assessment was being reviewed. But "urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do".

The Health Ministry also informed that the vaccine which is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa will go in use from the weekend. It spreads between people through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is infected with or has died from the virus.

However, it needs to be stored at a temperature of between -60 and -80 C, which is a challenge in DR Congo because electricity supplies are unreliable.

At least 45 people are believed to have been infected in the current outbreak and 25 deaths are being investigated.

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She said her ministry would continue to monitor the situation at all levels and will update the public as the epidemic unfolds.

It was the first case in the latest outbreak to be confirmed in an urban environment, sparking fears it would lead to a wider contamination. It is about 93 miles from Mbandaka.

The emergency meeting is to "consider the worldwide risks" of the deadly Ebola virus disease, which has now moved to an urban area of DRC. World Health Organization said it was deploying about 30 more experts to Mbandaka.

It is the ninth time Ebola outbreak that has been recorded in the DRC, whose eastern Ebola river gave the deadly virus its name when it was discovered there in the 1970s, and the outbreak comes less than a year after one that killed eight people. The virus is initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys.

Special Ebola treatment centres are also being established in Mbandaka and Bikoro, which will have capacity to treat 20 patients each.

First symptoms generally include the sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, and this is followed by vomiting and diarrhoea. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

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