Congo's health ministry says doses of Ebola vaccine arrive

Congo's health ministry says doses of Ebola vaccine arrive

The Democratic Republic of Congo's new ebola outbreak has entered a "new phase", the country's health minister has announced.

Health Minister Oly Ilunga late Wednesday said two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones, which includes Mbandaka city, about 93 miles from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak began.

She says health experts have identified 500 contacts who are now being traced.

He said authorities would intensify population tracing at all air, river and road routes out of the city.

This Ebola recurrence is the ninth DRC has faced in 4 decades after the first in 1976.

Ebola is most feared for the internal and external bleeding it can cause in victims owing to damage done to blood vessels.

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Three nurses are among the suspected cases, and one is among the dead.

He said one sample proved positive for the Ebola virus, meaning there have now been three confirmed cases in three different health zones. Vaccine for curing Ebola has not been discovered yet.

Before the latest confirmed case, Peter Salama, the WHO's deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said the current number of suspected, probable or confirmed cases stood at 42, with 23 deaths attributed to the outbreak.

The first batch of 4,000 doses of vaccine was already being flown to Kinshasa, and the World Health Organization plans to send a second batch of 4,000 doses in coming days, World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.

The 2014-16 West Africa outbreak, which killed 11,300 people, was particularly deadly because it spread to the capital cities of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The health body also sent 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities.

Out of the 20 persons died in DRC, 3 are health workers, Director of the Center John Nkengasong said.