Two of three Ebola patients who escaped quarantine in the Congo river port city of Mbandaka have died, the head of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres' (MSF) mission in the city said on Wednesday.
The WHO chief also underlined that the coordination among global health partners was essential, too, before highlighting that even he had problems in accessing rural Bikoro to see the problem first-hand, during his visit to the area shortly after the beginning of the outbreak. Two of the zones are rural and remote, with few roads or other infrastructure. More than 7500 doses are available in Congo, WHO said on Monday, and another 8000 doses will be available in the coming days. Thursday May 24, 2018.
Congo's health ministry said there are now 28 confirmed Ebola cases, 21 probable ones and two suspected.
So far today, health officials haven't announced any new outbreak totals. "I assure you, we have already taken all the thermometers that are in Kinshasa, practically all the thermometers, and there are even colleagues who are going on the other side to Brazzaville to buy thermometers".
Health officials are particularly concerned by the disease's presence in Mbandaka, a crowded trading hub upstream from the capital Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people. "Today, the increased capacity of World Health Organization to address Ebola outbreaks and its quick response in partnership with DRC mean that the current landscape, as well as the potential role for the US, may be quite different from four years ago".
"Although no cases of EVD (Ebola virus disease) have been reported in South Sudan, the outbreak in DRC is of concern as it places the country at greater risk", said Argata Guracha Guyo, Emergency Coordinator for WHO South Sudan, said in a statement issued in Juba.
This presents a new challenge for health workers battling to stop the spread of the contagious disease, says the BBC's Anne Soy in DR Congo.
Ebola first presents with a headache and fever, with hemorrhaging being a later symptom.
The World Bank Group's Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility on Tuesday also approved a $12 million grant towards efforts to contain the virus.
Two of the patients who managed to slip out of the isolation ward in a hospital in the city of almost 1.2 million people are now dead, but the third patient is alive and now under observation.
"We are on the epidemiological knife edge", Peter Salama, in charge of emergency response at the World Health Organization, told a special meeting on the outbreak that has killed 27 people.
WHO is working with the country's health ministry, Doctors Without Borders and other partners to inoculate primary and secondary contacts, who are at high risk of infection.
"This is not mass immunisation, this is highly targeted ring vaccination", Salama said, pointing out that the aim was to form "protective rings around (each) case to protect the people themselves, but also to prevent further community transmission".
There is no proven treatment for Ebola but Congolese authorities have asked the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to test an experimental treatment, an antibody called mAb114, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told Reuters on Wednesday.
Those infected with Ebola can suffer from severe internal bleeding, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 per cent of cases, depending on the strain.
The WHO vaccination program started this week, and health care workers have identified more than 600 people who've come into contact with ill people.
Dozens of health workers in the northwestern provincial capital, Mbandaka, have received vaccinations amid expectations that some will be deployed to the rural epicenter of the epidemic.