Democratic Republic of Congo Confirms New Ebola Cases

Liberia Turns Towards Normalcy As Fight Continues To Eradicate Ebola

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Nigeria has increased screening tests at airports and other points of entry as a precautionary measure following an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the immigration service said on Thursday.

"The number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases is significant, so we are very concerned, and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario", Salama, deputy director-general of WHO's emergency preparedness and response, said.

WHO is working closely with authorities in DRC to scale up operations rapidly and mobilize health partners that have helped in relatively recent Ebola outbreaks in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. "Due to its huge swathes of forest, the DRC is a reservoir for the virus, making the country particularly susceptible to outbreaks of Ebola", he says.

Professor Martin Michaelis conducted a study which indicated previous mass vaccination attempts, including during the last major epidemic of 2014 to 2016, were unsuccessful.

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Why so many outbreaks in DRC? "We are in close communication with our partners including the World Health Organisation, who are in Congo to monitor and respond to the situation". The new outbreak is believed to be occurring in the town of Bikoro in the northwestern part of the African nation.

DR Congo has endured nine known outbreaks of Ebola since 1976, when the deadly viral disease was first identified in then Zaire by a Belgian-led team. This includes the use of personal protective equipment when handling patients.

Sawyer, a Liberian-American, died at a hospital and infected several health workers, including Stella Ameyo Adedavoh, a doctor who defied orders to allow him to leave the hospital and saved Nigeria from a mass outbreak in the process. Also, the world is better able to support affected countries, and continue testing the Ebola vaccine, which was trialled somewhat in West Africa.

He said, however, that there are many complications in using an experimental vaccine, and it's not a simple logistical effort.

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"This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most hard terrains on earth", Salama said.

In December 2013, after a two-year-old boy died from Ebola in a rural village in Guinea, the virus spread across three West African countries, reaching Nigeria, Spain, the U.S. and the UK.

At this level, 80 percent of a population would need to be immunised to prevent outbreaks, even if a highly effective vaccine that protects 90 percent of individuals after vaccination was available.

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