Ebola outbreak suspends church sacraments in Congo

Ebola outbreak suspends church sacraments in Congo

Ebola outbreak suspends church sacraments in Congo

Two more people have died of Ebola in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing the toll to 27 in almost a month, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

There have been 62 Ebola cases in the DRC during this latest oubreak, with 38 confirmations and 27 deaths.

Msgr. Bomengola told CNS Ebola had "made everything more hard for the population", adding that there were fears the disease could spread down the Congo River from the trading hub of Mbandaka to Kinshasa, a city of 10 million.

World Health Organization is now entering a new phase in which it moves its focus from urban areas to the extremely remote forest areas in north-western Congo where the outbreak began.

Phase one of the disease response was about protecting the urban centres and towns and that had gone well, Salama said, but phase two, tackling the remote forested areas, was an enormous logistical effort that would go on for weeks.

The outbreak, which began in the remote northwest and was declared in the town of Bikoro, has spread to the city of Mbandaka with a population of more than one million. This is the DRC's ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976 when the hemorrhagic fever was first identified.

"What this is telling us is the response (the WHO's vaccination program) is having an impact in those two locations", said Salama. This figure includes 673 people in Mbandaka, 398 in Bikoro, 725 in Iboko, and 30 in Ingende, also located in the Equateur province. The newest confirmed case is in rural Iboko and is linked to a probable Ebola death on May 20, the ministry said. "We've reached the majority of contacts - more than 98% - with vaccination. and we believe these contacts are now protected against Ebola", he said.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

Based on the IHR assessment and status of core capacities implementation in countries, the plan lays out WHO's recommendations to ensure that these countries are operationally ready to prevent the importation of cases, implement risk mitigation, detection and response measures for Ebola. That has complicated efforts to track contacts of those infected.

However, the Congolese government is considering other experimental treatments that it is evaluating for use. "But we know to never underestimate Ebola".

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