A deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has a clear “potential to expand”, the WHO warned Wednesday, as it reported seven more cases of the disease.
“We are on the epidemiological knife edge,” Peter Salama, in charge of emergency response at the World Health Organisation (WHO), told a special meeting.
“The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we are going to be able to keep it under control,” said Salama.
The agency issued a new toll, saying there had been 58 cases since the outbreak was declared on May 8, an increase of seven over figures issued on Tuesday, of which 27 have been deaths.
One of the world’s most notorious diseases, Ebola is a virus-caused haemorrhagic fever that in extreme cases leads to fatal bleeding from internal organs, the mouth, eyes or ears. The outbreak began in rural northwestern DR Congo in a remote location called Bikoro.
Last Thursday, a first case was reported in Mbandaka—a city of around 1.2 million people that lies on the Congo River, where it is a transport hub to Brazzaville and Kinshasa downstream and to Bangui, upstream.So far, seven cases have surfaced in Mbandaka districts, WHO said.
“An urban case means that it can spread quickly. That is another challenge,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Wednesday’s special session during the agency’s annual World Health Assembly. -AFP