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.

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