Fears of 'explosive' outbreak as ebola hits Congo port city

12 health workers don protective clothing as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital in Bikoro Congo

According to NBC, an initial batch of 4,000 vaccines have been shipped to the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital city, where they'll be administered to individuals who come in contact with ebola patients, as well as people who are in contact with those initial vaccinated individuals.

Salama said that isolation and rudimentary management facilities had been set up in Mbandaka. Tens of millions of people live along the river, and the capitals of Congo, Central African Republic, and the Republic of Congo lie along it and its tributaries.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", Ilunga said, adding he was anxious because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province. Laboratory tests on two samples from Wangata confirmed one specimen as positive for Ebola, while the other was negative.

Moreover, MSF and its research arm Epicentre are working closely with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the implementation of the Ebola vaccine rVSVDG-ZEBOV-GP as an additional measure to control the outbreak. The WHO has called an emergency meeting over a health crisis of potentially "international concern". The total includes 20 probable cases and 21 suspected ones. And despite the frightening threat of this devastating virus spreading to one of the country's larger cities, at least health workers now have a new weapon in their arsenal.

They've traced the first case back to early April, and the DRC's Ministry of Health (MoH) officially declared the situation an "outbreak" on May 8.

It's the first time in the region's ongoing outbreak that a case has been detected in an urban health zone, with all other cases reported in remote, rural areas of Equateur province.

Later on Friday, the WHO will convene an Emergency Committee of experts to advise on the worldwide response to the outbreak, and decide whether it constitutes a "public health emergency of global concern".

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It spreads by direct contact with body fluids of an infected person or animal.

The city of nearly 1.2 million is on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor in the vast country and upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million.

There is no licensed drug to treat or prevent Ebola, although an experimental vaccine arrived in the DRC on Wednesday and has been cleared for use by the Kinshasa government.

"Medical teams have been rushing to track down anyone thought to have had contact with infected people", says Time magazine, "while World Health Organization is shipping thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine". The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

The outbreak in West Africa that started in 2014 reached epidemic proportions and was the worst ever recorded, infecting more than 28,000 and killing more than 11,000.

A concurrent but much smaller and unrelated Ebola outbreak took place in Congo in 2014 as well.

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