Ebola outbreak threatens city of a million people in DR Congo
Experimental vaccine rushed to the city of Mbandaka after confirmed case of the deadly virus
The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting today, as Ebola threatens to spread through a Congolese city.
“At least 44 people are believed to have been infected” during a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says the BBC, and “23 deaths are currently being investigated”.
The greatest cause for concern is a confirmed case of the deadly disease in Mbandaka, a city of about a million people and a transport hub on the Congo River in the north-west of the country.
“This is a major, major game-changer in the outbreak,” said Dr Peter Salama, the WHO’s deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response. “We’re certainly not trying to cause any panic in the national or international community, [but] urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do.”
Other cases in this outbreak “have been detected in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus”, The Guardian reports.
International teams are seeking to isolate and treat anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
“Medical teams have been rushing to track down anyone thought to have had contact with infected people,” says Time magazine, “while WHO is shipping thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine.”