Democratic Republic of Congo/ Switzerland: Ebola reaches DRC city stoking fears of epidemic

«Well, the biggest challenge in this response is that now we know that we have suspected cases in an urban centre in Democratic Republic of Congo. In the past, in most of the Ebola outbreaks in DRC, it's been rural and fairly self-limited, but now we know that populations of more than a million are at risk. The other major issue here is that this centre of Mbandaka is on the banks of the river of... Еще Congo, and that river connects to the internal hinterland of DRC but also to surrounding countries such as Congo-Brazzaville and Central African Republic, so this outbreak now has a real risk of national and regional amplification.» WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response Dr. Peter Salama told reporters during an interview in Geneva on Wednesday that the recent Ebola outbreak now has «a real risk of national and regional amplification», after a case of the deadly virus was spotted in the DRC city of Mbandaka. «The biggest challenge in this response is that now we know that we have suspected cases in an urban centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the past, in most of the Ebola outbreaks in DRC, it's been rural and fairly self-limited, but now we know that populations of more than a million are at risk», he said. Dr Salama explained that the centre of Mbandaka is on the banks of Congo River, which in turn connects to the internal hinterland of DRC as well as to surrounding countries such as Congo-Brazzaville and Central African Republic. This means an outbreak could potentially have national and regional repercussions. The WHO spokesperson estimated costs for the first three months of a response operation would amount to around $25 million (€21 million). Salama stressed that the situation should be invested in imminently before more lives are lost. «We really have an opportunity here with the game changing technology of vaccines to actually prevent large-scale suffering and death», he said. Congo's Ministry of Health announced on Thursday, 11 new confirmed Ebola cases and two deaths in the northwest of the country. On Wednesday, the first 4,000 doses of Ebola vaccines touched down in the DRC capital of Kinshasa. In addition, the WHO in Geneva received an additional batch of 2,000 doses of medicine from the pharmaceutical company Merck, which will be shipped out to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the coming days. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that there is an Ebola virus outbreak in the Equator province.

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