World Health Organization raises Ebola risk assessment for DRC to 'very high'

World Health Organization raises Ebola risk assessment for DRC to 'very high'

World Health Organization raises Ebola risk assessment for DRC to 'very high'

Ebola is notoriously hard to contain, though recent outbreaks in Congo have been managed swiftly by the WHO and Congolese health officials, gaining the government there a reputation as one of the continent's most prepared.

Congo's Ebola outbreak has spread to a crossroads city of more than 1 million people in a troubling turn that marks the first time the vast, impoverished country has encountered the lethal virus in an urban area. They all occurred outside urban areas.

The WHO revised its assessment of the risk of spread of the epidemic to "very high" at the national level and "high" for neighbouring countries.

The WHO's International Health Regulations emergency committee will determine on Friday if the current outbreak constitutes a public heath event of international concern. No details were given on the death's links to the newly confirmed case.

The announcement came from the office of the Congo's health minister late Wednesday night after it was learned that there was a single case of Ebola reported in Mbandaka, a densely populated city just under 100 miles from the site of the last reported case. Previously, infections and deaths had been limited to the rural Bikoro health zone, almost 150 kilometers away.

The agency said it was deploying around 30 experts to Mbandaka "to conduct surveillance in the city".

Dr. Peter Salama, the World Health Organization's deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, called the new development "a major, major game-changer in the outbreak". "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus".

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Global teams are seeking to isolate and treat anyone who may have been exposed to the virus. The Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo are close by.

Isolation zones have been set up in Mbandaka's main hospital, and in Bikoro, WHO said.

"At least 44 people are believed to have been infected" during a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says the BBC, and "23 deaths are now being investigated".

There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or those who have died from the disease.

The European Commission has announced a package of urgent humanitarian aid to help contain an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said the disease could have been taken there by people who attended the funeral of an Ebola victim in Bikoro, the south of Mbandaka, before travelling to the city. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will hold an emergency meeting to assess the worldwide health risk of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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