World Health Organization to send Ebola vaccines to DRC as virus spreads

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At a media briefing in Geneva, Peter Salama, MBBS, MPH, said the outbreak area near Bikoro-located about 174 miles from the provincial capital city of Mbandaka-has few paved roads and little electricity, and now the only way to get supplies in is by motorbike. However, there is an airstrip 8 km from Bikoro.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki on Friday said some 260 health workers are on standby, as the Government tightens the measures put in place, to ensure the virus is not imported to the country.

"We are very concerned, and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst case scenario", WHO's head of emergency response Peter Salama told reporters in Geneva. The outbreak primarily hit the remote village of Ikoko Ipenge.

What makes Ebola more unsafe is that it is hard to diagnose someone with the disease until they have been actually infected with it for a few days already.

There was another Ebola outbreak in the D.R.C. last year, also in a remote area, the province of Bas-Uélé.

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The Ministry of Health affirms that there is NO case of Ebola in the country.

Unless remediated immediately, the number of deaths for this outbreak could increase. Neighboring countries have been alerted about the new outbreak. "At all levels, this has been taken as the highest priority".

World Health Organization already has a team on the ground and is preparing to send up to 40 more specialists in epidemiology, logistics, contact tracing and other areas to the region in the coming week or so.

"WHO staff were in the team that first identified the outbreak".

Whether experts will be able to find infected bats during the latest DRC outbreak remains unknown, partly because there may have been undetected cases of the disease dating back months; any culprit bat colony may have moved on by now.

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"Public health emergency of global concern" means an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations: "(i) to constitute a public health risk to other States through the worldwide spread of disease and (ii) to potentially require a coordinated worldwide response".

Having already deployed personal protective equipment on the ground, WHO plans to have a mobile laboratory up and running by this weekend, following approval from the DRC's Ministry of Health.

"In collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO), we are monitoring the situation in DRC", Malango said.

Gavi has an emergency stockpile of 300,000 doses.

The side effects of the vaccine were mostly mild. The WHO has reached out to experienced Ebola vaccinators from Guinea. So far, 75 contacts are being monitored by the field teams. "This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most hard terrains on earth", he said.

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