Distributions of World Food Programme rations have begun in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s Ebola-hit Equateur Province as part of an effort to support those directly affected by the latest outbreak of the deadly virus and limit risky population movements.
Dr. Salama, the United Nations health agency's Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response, was fresh from a two-day visit to the DRC. The current outbreak is caused by the Zaire ebolavirus, one of five separate subtypes and the one with the highest mortality rate, ranging from 60% to 90%, according to WHO.
"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro", he said. The newest confirmed case is in rural Iboko and is linked to a probable Ebola patient who died on 20 May, the ministry said.More news: Argentina: IMF Provides Buenos Aires With $50 Billion Standby Loan
The new case is in the remote Iboko health zone in Congo's northwest.
In contrast to previous Ebola outbreaks, health workers have moved quickly to halt the spread of the virus by vaccinating everybody who has had contact with Ebola patients, and everybody who has had contact with those primary contacts. Bikoro health zone and Wangata health zone both reported their last confirmed case in mid-May. It's the identification and follow-up of all people who may have come into contact with a person infected with the infectious disease.
It's "extremely likely" that a campaign to vaccinate contacts of people in Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million, had a positive effect, said Peter Salama, WHO's emergencies chief.More news: Actor Vince Vaughn charged with DWI, resisting arrest in Hermosa Beach
On the front lines of the outbreak, health officials use a tool called contact tracing to break the chain of transmission of the Ebola virus.
"This is a major logistical and boots-on-the-ground epidemiological endeavor now", Salama said, adding that work there will go on for weeks.
The Catholic Church in Congo said emergency measures will remain indefinitely in place in parishes at risk of Ebola, and urged effective action against the disease by the government of President Joseph Kabila. This is the DRC's ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976 when the hemorrhagic fever was first identified. "But we know to never underestimate Ebola".More news: Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law appeal