WHO says 19 dead, 39 infected so far in Congo Ebola outbreak

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Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on a two-visit to DR Congo, said the suspected new case was in Bikoro, at the centre of the latest Ebola outbreak in the country's northwest, where so far 18 people have died.

The declaration followed laboratory results that confirmed two cases of the disease.

"This is the country's ninth Ebola outbreak and there is considerable expertise in-country", Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, was quoted as saying. The biggest worry since the epidemic was identified has been that it could spread there.

A total of 39 Ebola virus disease cases have been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including 19 deaths from April 4 through May 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. Some deaths occurring as early as January have not yet been linked to the epidemic.

Ebola caused global alarm in 2014 when the world's worst outbreak began in West Africa, killing more than 11,300 people and infecting an estimated 28,600 as it swept through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

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The WHO was criticised for bungling its response to that epidemic, and so has moved quickly. The affected area is remote with limited communication and poor transportation infrastructure.

On Friday the United Nations health agency had announced that it was preparing for all scenarios, including the "worst case scenario", in the latest Ebola outbreak in DR Congo.

"The WHO is strengthening its presence, positioning a dozen epidemiologists who will be divided on the axes of Mbandaka, Bikoro and Iboko to investigate alerts", its Congo representative, Allarangar Yokouide, said.

Although the DRC outbreak is of a different strain, the experimental vaccine is still thought to be safe and effective.

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