Congo announces 4 new Ebola cases in country's northeast

Congo announces 4 new Ebola cases in country's northeast

The government confirmed to the World Health Organization on Wednesday that four out of six samples tested for Ebola virus at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa returned a positive result.

However, the outbreak "is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were operating in the northwest", it quoted Peter Salama, deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response as saying.

Global health experts have arrived in the region. "This is an active conflict zone".

"Although we did not expect to face a tenth epidemic so early, the detection of the virus is an indicator of the proper functioning of the surveillance system", Health Minister Oly Ilunga said.

Four cases of the Ebola virus have been confirmed in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, officials confirmed Wednesday.

About 1,000 civilians have been killed by armed groups and government soldiers around Beni since 2014, and the wider region of North Kivu holds over 1 million displaced people.

He says identifying the type of Ebola virus that is circulating is a priority, as that will tell scientists whether the vaccine used to help contain the outbreak in Equateur province can also be used in North Kivu.

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This outbreak is more than 1,500 miles from the earlier one on the opposite side of the country.

It has a natural reservoir in a species of tropical African fruit bats, from which it is believed to leap to humans who kill and butcher the animals for food.

Congolese and global health officials were credited with responding rapidly to the last outbreak, including by deploying an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck.

"This allows us to have a head start in response to this cluster, " said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The latest outbreak comes after DRC authorities declared a previous emergence of the disease - which has no proven cure - over on July 24.

"What adds to our confidence in the country's ability to respond is the transparency they have displayed once again", Tedros added.

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