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The UN agency has said an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is concerning, but the outlook is better than in 2014. The comments came as the DRC kicked off a vaccination campaign to contain the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that it is in a much better place to respond quickly to this year's Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) than in previous years.
The prior leaders of the UN agency were roundly criticized for their sluggish response to an outbreak that erupted in 2014 that killed more than 11,300 people.
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WHO: 'We are much better placed'
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said he was still optimistic, despite concerns that the virus was found in Mbandaka, a city on the Congo River with a population of one million, and that it could possibly spread downstream to the capital city Kinshasa — where 10 million people live.
"It's concerning that we now have cases of Ebola in an urban center, but we are much better placed to deal with this outbreak than we were in 2014," Tedros told health ministers at the WHO's annual assembly.
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There are concerns that the virus could travel from the city of Mbandaka to the capital Kinshasa, where 10 million people live
Vaccination campaign begins: Congolese health officials and WHO staff said that a vaccination campaign in Mbandaka has begun. Over 70 health workers who have come in contact with the virus will be the first to be vaccinated, while relatives and others who had come in contact with Ebola victims will follow afterwards.
Dozens killed in DRC outbreak: A total of 27 people have died from the outbreak so far. Out of 49 hemorrhagic fever cases in the DRC, 22 of them have been confirmed as Ebola and 21 are listed as probable while 6 cases are suspected, Health Minister Oly Ilunga said. Two patients have recovered from Ebola and have returned home, but will be monitored.
Deadly virus: Ebola symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in muscles as well as internal and external bleeding. There is no specific treatment for the virus. Depending on the strain, it can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.
rs/rc (AP, Reuters)