Ebola claims two more lives in Congo; seven new cases confirmed

Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo –  Authorities have confirmed two more people have died from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Tuesday, as aid agencies battled to persuade sceptical residents about the severity of an outbreak that has killed 27 since April.

Ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga told  Reuters one the deaths occurred in Mbandaka. A nurse also died in the village of Bikoro, the town near where the outbreak was first detected in early May.

Some residents at the central market in Mbandaka, where vendors in colourful fabrics hawk smoked monkeys said they were unmoved and did not take the warnings not to consume bushmeat since a case of Ebola was discovered in the city of 1.5 million last week.

A woman name Carine, mother of eight said, “Despite your Ebola stories, we buy and eat monkey meat,”

“We have eaten that since forever. That is not going to change today. Ebola, that’s in Bikoro.”

Accoridng to experts who have studied the Ebola virus since its discovery in 1976 along the Ebola river in Congo, then Zaire, have suspected thee origin of the disease is forest bats. There has also been links to the carcasses of freshly slaughtered animals eaten as bush meat.

The ministry said seven new confirmed cases were also registered in Bikoro,b this now brings the total number of confirmed cases to 28.

More than 11,300 people died in an Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone between 2013 and 2016,health authorities were widely criticized for their response.

However this time, health officials are especially concerned by the disease’s presence in Mbandaka, which is a crowded trading hub on the Congo River with road, water and air links to Congo’s capital, Kinshasa.

World Health Organisatio  (WHO) said health officials administered an experimental vaccine on Monday to 33 medical workers and Mbandaka residents.

The WHO vaccine manufacturer Merck said they have provided 8,640 doses of the vaccine and an additional 8,000 doses are expected to be made available in the coming days.

The vaccine takes seven to 10 days to generate a strong enough immune response to ensure a person is fully protected. Those vaccinated are instructed to follow the same strict infection control and hygiene practices as anyone who is not vaccinated.

Photo Credit- AFP

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