Now 10 confirmed Ebola deaths in Congo


South Sudan and the United Nations health agency have launched a sensitization and awareness campaign against Ebola to enhance preparedness in the country following an outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The total number of possible Ebola cases, including those that have yet to be confirmed, stands at 54 on Saturday: six are suspected cases, 13 are considered likely and 35 have been confirmed by laboratory tests using biological samples.

Two infected patients who fled from an Ebola treatment center in a Congo city of 1.2 million people later died, an aid group said Wednesday while asserting that "forced hospitalization is not the solution to this epidemic".

Officials are now desperately trying to convince sceptical residents about the severity of the most recent outbreak, which has killed 27 since April/.

This new United Kingdom aid support will help the World Health Organisation (WHO) to monitor the spread of the disease, identify and diagnose cases, trace people at risk of infection, support the vaccination campaign, and treat the sick.

This is Congo's ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976, when the hemorrhagic fever was first identified.

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Salama said the outbreak has three or four epicentres, making containment more challenging.

In an interview posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Dr. Peter Salama, the World Health Organization's deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said the hope is that roughly 1,000 people will be vaccinated over the next week.

One superstition that has spread in Mbandaka, said nurse Julie Lobali, is that Ebola began in Bikoro as "a curse on those who ate stolen meat".

A doctor and a nursing sister were threatened by locals after they were accused of bringing the disease to their communities, while people in one town prevented medics from testing the body of someone suspected to have died from Ebola, officials said.

"It could go either way over the next few weeks and we are working around the clock to make sure it (goes) in the right direction", he told AFP after the meeting.

Fauci said mAb114, which is made from the antibodies of a survivor of a 1995 Ebola outbreak in Congo, is promising because it comes in crystallised form and does not need to be kept cold.

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But lack of trust between patients and doctors is often the reason those sick with Ebola would attempt to evade treatment, which can be intimidating when it involves isolating them from their families and only interacting with medical professionals dressed in hazmat suits.

Other differences in the current outbreak-the largest involving Ebola since West Africa's epidemic-include the DRC's past experience managing Ebola outbreaks and the availability of an experimental vaccine to help battle the disease.

Antho Buka, who sells meat and fish at the Wahi market at a port in Kinshasa said she was surprised residents in Kinshasa are anxious about Ebola, since it is in the northwest Equateur Province.

But Yakouide quickly denied it, saying that no cases are confirmed in the capital. The vaccine will also be given to people who have come in contact with those infected.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa, also told AFP she was "very confident" the agency's response this time was robust and efficient. The programme also contains an additional contingency mechanism, to be drawn upon in the event of serious outbreaks, and use of which is allowing the United Kingdom to respond swiftly to the current situation in the DRC. Those kinds of rumors could profoundly affect people's willingness to be vaccinated. In some cases, the virus is spread from contact with someone who has died from the disease.

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