Three Ebola patients escape from Congo hospital, two had help from family

Faith Castro
May 27, 2018

World Health Organisation bosses have previously warned spread in the city could mean a repeat of the 2014 outbreak - which killed over 11,000.

"Another left on Saturday, but was found alive the same day and is now under observation". Now there are 35 confirmed, 13 probable and six suspects, four of them new: two in Bikoro, one in Iboko and another in Wangata, the only urban center affected so far. There are more than 7,500 doses of the vaccine, made by Merck, on the ground already, and the company has been asked by the World Health Organization to send another 8,600, a Merck spokesperson said. There have been 44 reported cases of Ebola in the area, including 23 deaths. "Whether and how to designate a point person on outbreaks is a debate that predates the DRC Ebola outbreak, but the ongoing outbreak has added some urgency to this discussion", they wrote.

The agency is accelerating efforts in nine countries that neighbour DRC, to try to prevent the spread of the current outbreak beyond its borders.

"We're on the epidemiological knife edge of this response", he added at the United Nations body's annual assembly. "The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we're going to be able to keep it under control", Dr. Peter Salama, the World Health Organization emergencies chief, told a World Health Assembly session Wednesday.

The disease, which is transmitted through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids belonging to infected people or animals, is widely feared for its destructive internal and external bleeding due to the virus causing severe damage to blood vessels.

The cases represent a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including the use of an experimental vaccine, and show efforts to stem its spread can be hampered by age-old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses.

Lucey said that "there are quite a few experimental vaccines, both from the West and from China and from Russian Federation", yet only one investigational Ebola vaccine is being used in the current outbreak - recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire Ebola virus (or rVSV-ZEBOV), made by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

WHO's three-month budget for the crisis has been doubled to $57 million to carry out a complex operation in a remote, forested area, Salama said. "One associated with a funeral that took place in a neighbouring town of Bikoro; one associated with a visit to a health care facility more than 80 kilometres away in the small village of Iboko and one where we're still gathering data on that's related to a church ceremony".

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The WHO vaccination program started this week, and health care workers have identified more than 600 people who've come into contact with ill people. "However, the most effective measures remain the respect of hygiene measures, the rapid management of cases, and the follow-up of contacts", he added. "It is normal for people to want their loved ones to be at home during what could be the last moments of life", Jasarevic said.

The WHO has yet to declare the outbreak an emergency after hearing from officials in the DRC.

"They are connected, they are very close, and that is another challenge that makes the problem really serious", he said.

"It is hard to recall a situation of an outbreak where a government has responded more quickly and more decisively than in this outbreak", he said.

"Last week, in the DRC, cases of Ebola were confirmed in Mbandaka, a city with a population of 1.2 million people some 150 kilometres from where the outbreak originated in Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province".

Health workers on Wednesday began registering passengers arriving, and took their temperatures.

Those findings give people hope this vaccine will help control Ebola outbreaks.

There have been 22 deaths among these cases, including eight people who died from a confirmed case of Ebola. Even so, rumours about the outbreak's real origins abound.

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