Confirmed Ebola case in Congo city
KINSHASA, CONGO — Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak has spread to a city of more than 1 million, a worrying shift as the deadly virus risks travelling more easily in densely populated areas.
Medical teams hurried to find anyone thought to have had contact with infected people as the nation — which has had eight previous Ebola outbreaks — fights the virus in an urban area for the first time.
Two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones that include Mbandaka, the capital of northwestern Equateur province. The city is about 150 kilometres from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week, said Congo’s Health Minister Oly Ilunga.
One sample proved positive for Ebola, he said. That brings the number of confirmed Ebola cases to three. There has been a total of 44 reported cases, including 23 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The total includes 20 probable cases and 21 suspected ones.
“We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,” Ilunga said, adding he was worried because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province.
The city is on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million.
“Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field with community relays to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases,” Ilunga said.