20 May 2018

Congo-Kinshasa: Ebola Vaccination Set to Start in DR Congo Amid Rising Number of Cases

Photo: WHO
Responding to the DR Congo's latest Ebola outbreak.

Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are to start a vaccination campaign to contain an Ebola outbreak. The dangerous virus is spreading, with at least 21 people contracting the disease.

Congolese authorities will begin administering an experimental Ebola vaccine on Monday in Mbandaka, a northwestern city of 1.2 million people, where the lethal virus has claimed the life of one person.

The number of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has increased to 21 - many of them in Mbandaka - and the risk of the deadly virus spreading further has been dubbed "high."

Health workers with World Health Organization (WHO) officials are trying to contain the disease.

"The vaccination campaign begins tomorrow, Monday, in Mbandaka, capital of the province [Equateur province]. It will target, first, the health staff, the contacts of the sick and the contacts of the contacts," Minister of Health Oly Ilunga said on Sunday.

The vaccination drive will initially target 600 people.

A spokesperson for the health ministry said Sunday that 4,000 doses of vaccines were shipped on Sunday to the city. The WHO confirmed dispatching 7,450 vaccine doses to Congo, but government officials said they needed a total of 300,000 vaccines.

DRC's President Joseph Kabila agreed to increase funds for the Ebola emergency to $4 million (€3.4 million).

Ebola is a near-fatal disease that causes a hemorrhagic fever that often leads to massive internal bleeding.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo in four decades. The last major Ebola outbreak hit the eastern African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014, killing some 11,000 people.

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