The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the health assessment risk in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to “very high” as the African country fights to contain the latest outbreak of Ebola virus.
The outbreak was first detected 11 days ago on May 8 and 25 people are believed to have died from the disease so far. A total of 45 cases have been reported during the same period but only 16 of those cases have been confirmed – most of which are from the remote Bikoro health zone.
DRC Ebola risk ‘very high’
Health authorities in the DRC have been quick to respond to the outbreak and WHO says the response is working. However, three of the confirmed Ebola cases from this outbreak come from Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million people in close proximity to the Congo river.
“The risk of international spread is particularly high since the city of Mbandaka is in proximity to the Congo river, which has significant regional traffic across porous borders,” Dr Robert Steffen, the chairman of WHO’s Emergency Committee said in a statement.
Despite the risk, WHO says the outbreak in its current state doesn’t meet the conditions of an international crisis and its hopeful that authorities can contain the outbreak before it escalates to that extent.
Vaccinations with ZMapp, an experimental biopharmaceutical drug developed to combat Ebola, could begin as soon as Sunday