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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Battle Against Ebola Continues

Lifestyle & Health

7Dnews London

Wed, 13 Jun 2018 14:06 GMT

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cautioned against declaring victory too early in the battle against Ebola in the Congo, Reuters has reported. 

The warning comes at a time of cautious optimism as health officials make some encouraging progress in halting the spread of the deadly disease in the latest outbreak.

"The outbreak is stabilising, but still the outbreak is not over," said the WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to journalists on a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa.

"We are still at war, and we need to continue to strengthen our surveillance and ... be very vigilant." 

WHO officials expressed cautious optimism on Friday that the epidemic was stabilising, owing in part to the rapid deployment of an experimental vaccine. 

The optimism comes despite an announcement on the previous day by Congo’s health ministry of the first new case of Ebola in over a week. The case was found in the rural community of Iboko. 

Ghebreyesus said some 2,200 people had been vaccinated, and that case management and the tracing of people who had come into contact with victims was going well. 

But he said: "It's not over until it is over. Even if one case crosses into Congo (Republic) and gets to an urban area, that could trigger another epidemic."

The hemorrhagic fever has killed 27 people since the outbreak began in April. There have been 62 cases, 38 of which were confirmed in a laboratory. A further 14 are probable Ebola cases, and 10 more people are suspected of having Ebola. 

In contrast to previous ebola outbreaks, health workers have moved quickly to halt the Congo's latest epidemic. Ebola killed at least 11,300 people in the 2013 to 2016 outbreak in West Africa. The death toll resulted in heavy criticism for the WHO, which was accused of not taking the outbreak seriously enough during the early stages.