Fears in DRC as Ebola spreads to urban centre

AFP factfile on how the Ebola virus attacks

A single case of Ebola was confirmed in Mbandaka, a densely populated provincial capital on the Congo River, Congo's Health Minister Oly Ilunga said late Wednesday.

WHO said health workers had identified 430 people who may have had contact with the disease and were working to trace more than 4,000 contacts of Ebola patients who had spread across north-west DR Congo.

"If you remember from the previous outbreak, it took a whole lot for the worldwide community to understand it's a risky disease.Today it seems as if as soon as the first case was declared at least a lot of people are coming in to help", said Axelle Ronsse of the organisation.

"The confirmed case in Mbandaka, a large urban centre 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 neighbouring countries", the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The WHO's International Health Regulations emergency committee will determine on Friday if the current outbreak constitutes a public heath event of international concern.

The reassessment came after the first confirmed case in Mbandaka, a city of around 1.5 million in the northwest.

"All must be done to isolate the Ebola cases, especially since there has been a case in Mbandaka city", said EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Christos Stylianides.

Ebola is a highly infectious virus that can cause fever and bleeding.

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But in the wake of Monday's deadly violence, they morphed into demonstrations against Israel's excessive use of force. The statement said that Ireland was also "very disturbed" by reports of injuries suffered by health workers.

"Urban Ebola is a very different phenomenon to rural Ebola because we know that people in urban areas can have far more contacts so that means that urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do".

"This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said of the new urban case.

"This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic".

An outbreak in West Africa that began in 2014 left more than 11,000 dead across six countries, and was not declared officially over by World Health Organization until the beginning of 2016.

The government statement said the total number of Ebola cases is now 45, including 10 suspected cases, 21 probable cases and 14 confirmed cases.

She warned that the disease can be transmitted via human contact with the body fluids of an infected person and is fatal.

With the poor infrastructure and electricity supply in Congo, the only challenge that remains with the vaccine is that it has to store it in a cold temperature.

This is the ninth outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo - it was named after the country's Ebola river.

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