Congo-Kinshasa: No Confirmed New Ebola Cases in DRC Since Mid-May - WHO

Photo: UNICEF/Mark Naftalin
Health workers prepare to care for Ebola patients

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports no new cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been confirmed since May 17. WHO finds of 56 reported cases, 37 are confirmed, 13 are probable and six are suspected. The death toll stands at 25.

The U.N. agency said not too much should be read into the fact that the number of confirmed Ebola cases has remained stable since mid-May. It said these numbers should be viewed with some caution.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said it is critical that all people who have had contact with an infected person are identified. He said even one person with Ebola could create a number of new cases by coming in contact with people at social events or religious ceremonies such as funerals.

Jasarevic told VOA it is premature to let down one's guard. He says health care workers, responders and communities must remain vigilant

"The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo is not over and we need to continue to work," he added. "... There are lots of areas that are difficult to reach that we have to go to, that we need to make sure that we get to all the contacts. So, there still are contacts that have not been reached. So, it is really too early to say that the outbreak is contained."

Jasarevic said good progress is being made in vaccinating people who have come in contact with infected individuals. He said a vaccination campaign in Mbandaka, a city of more than one million people, is now over as all 577 known contacts of Ebola patients, health care workers and other vulnerable people there have been inoculated against the disease.

He said vaccinations are ongoing in the village of Bikoro, where Ebola was first detected and in Iboko a remote, difficult to reach area.

Ebola has broken out nine times in the DRC since the virus was discovered in that country in the 1970s. An outbreak in West Africa a few years ago left more than 11,000 people dead.

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