First death in Congo's new ebola outbreak confirmed

Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo locating a new outbreak of Ebola virus near the town of Bikoro on the shores of Lake Tumba in the north-western Equateur province

Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo locating a new outbreak of Ebola virus near the town of Bikoro on the shores of Lake Tumba in the north-western Equateur province

An outbreak has been detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya said during a press briefing the government had increased the level of alertness, that surveillance in all border entry areas have been increased.

A total of 250,000 US dollars has been set aside for outbreak response activities, and more resources are being mobilized, the statement said. The World Health Organization reported Thursday that 27 total cases of fever with hemorrhagic symptoms were recorded in the Bikoro region between April 4 and May 5, including 17 deaths.

A health worker sprays a colleague with disinfectant during a training session for Congolese health workers to deal with the Ebola virus in Kinshasa on October 21, 2014.

In December 2016, trials of an Ebola vaccine, with funders including Wellcome, DFID and the Norwegian Government, confirmed it provides a high level of protection against a strain of the deadly disease.

Ngaleto said of all cases so far reported, seven were now in the hospital in Bikoro.

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Most of the cases have been recorded around the village of Ikoko Impenge, near the northwestern town of Bikoro.

"After contact, the nurses began showing signs", Ngaleto told Reuters by telephone.

Five samples were collected from hospitalized patients, three from Ikoko-Impenge and two from Bikoro. "We have isolated them".

Congo's long experience of Ebola and its vast, remote geography mean outbreaks are often localised and relatively easy to isolate and snuff out.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing another episode of Ebola-related haemorrhagic fever. The ongoing epidemic is located in the Bikoro health zone, located in Equateur province, in western Democratic Republic of the Congo and on the border with the Republic of Congo.

Nigeria has already stepped up screening processes at this entry points including major global airports in the country to ensure no outbreak is recorded. DRC's health ministry said that it had sent a team of 12 experts to find the epicenter of the outbreak and the affected villages, and trace the new contacts of the disease. Similar measures helped Africa's most populous country contain the virus during the West African epidemic that began in 2013.

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