The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with no less than 3 persons already feared dead after contracting the deadly virus.
Of the nine people suspected to have contracted the deadly virus, three died, with one case of Ebola confirmed through tests at the national laboratory in the capital Kinshasa, WHO Congo representative Allarangar Yokouide, said in a statement.
He further added that people began to get sick on or after 22 April in Bas-Uele province in the country’s far north.
The region affected lies 1,300km (800 miles) north-east of Kinshasa, close to the border with the Central African Republic.
“It is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. But we always take this very seriously,” WHO Congo spokesman Eric Kabambi told Reuters news agency.
The WHO described the outbreak as “a public health crisis of international importance”.
It said the first teams of experts, including epidemiologists, biologists and hygiene specialists had been dispatched and were due to arrive in the affected region by Friday or Saturday.
A full statement issued on Friday by WHO on Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo read:
On 9 May, WHO was informed of a cluster of undiagnosed illness and deaths including haemorrhagic symptoms in Likati Health Zone, Bas Uele Province in the north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), bordering Central African Republic.
On 11 May, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo informed WHO that of 5 laboratory samples tested, 1 tested positive for Ebola virus at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) laboratory in Kinshasa. Additional laboratory samples are currently being tested.
Since 22 April, nine suspected cases including 3 deaths have been reported. Six cases are currently hospitalized.
“An investigation team led by the Ministry of Health and supported by WHO and partners has deployed and is expected to reach the affected area in the coming days”, says Dr Peter Salama, WHO Executive Director for Emergencies.
WHO and partners are supporting the Ministry of Health in all aspects of the response, including epidemiological investigation, surveillance, logistics and supplies, communications and community engagement.”
The last outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was in 2014 and killed more than 40 people.