'Strong progress' in calming Congo Ebola outbreak

Congo confirms another Ebola case as outbreak hits 1-month mark

UNICEF said June 5 that almost 300,000 people had been screened since the Ebola outbreak was confirmed May 8 by the World Health Organization.

There have been 62 Ebola cases in the DRC during this latest oubreak, with 38 confirmations and 27 deaths.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak poses a significant risk of spread to these countries on the basis of proximity to the current outbreak and the current capacity of their health systems to cope with the disease.

World Health Organization said four of the five approved drugs are now in the country, which are Zmapp, GS-5734, REGN monoclonal antibody combination, and mAb114, under the framework of compassionate use and expanded access.

Phase one of the disease response was about protecting the urban centres and towns and that had gone well, Salama said, but phase two, tackling the remote forested areas, was an enormous logistical effort that would go on for weeks.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro", he said.

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The Ebola outbreak coincides with political tension in Congo over preparations for long-postponed December elections as well as violence by armed groups in several provinces. More than 98% of known contacts have been vaccinated, Salama said.

While Ebola's spread to a major city has complicated efforts to track all contacts of those infected, the presence of the virus in Iboko poses another world of problems.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

But the Congolese health ministry said on Wednesday that "no experimental treatment has yet been given to hospitalised patients".

The Catholic Church in Congo said emergency measures will remain indefinitely in place in parishes at risk of Ebola, and urged effective action against the disease by the government of President Joseph Kabila.

"We're cautiously optimistic but there's a lot of very tough work to do in phase two before we say that we're on the top of this outbreak", said Dr. Salama. "We've learned the hard way in the past to never underestimate Ebola".

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