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Congo announces 4 new Ebola cases in country's northeast

04 August 2018

Julie Hall, chief of staff at the International Federation of the Red Cross, said the Ebola response in North Kivu would be a "highly complex" operation.

Four cases of the disease were positively confirmed in the country's North Kivu province and more are anticipated, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the country's health minister, said.

Officials have not confirmed the particular strain of Ebola causing the outbreak, which may have killed 20 people, but WHO's emergency response chief Peter Salama said it could be the Zaire, Sudan or Bundibugyo strain.

In addition, 12 Ministry of Health experts including epidemiologists and doctors will travel to Beni with a mobile laboratory and protective equipment from the National Institute of Biomedical Research in Kinshasa. "Although we did not expect to face a 10th epidemic so early, the detection of the virus is an indicator of the proper functioning of the surveillance system", a DRC Ministry of Health communique said.

The province, known as North Kivu, is a conflict zone and is home to 1 million displaced people.

"Ebola is a constant threat in the DRC", said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General in a statement sent to media.

The Ministry also stressed that there was no connection that the "defeated" northwest outbreak - which lasted over 40 days and killed 33 people was related to the current one. "What adds to our confidence in the country's ability to respond is the transparency they have displayed once again". The DRC said 26 people have reported illnesses. Six samples from these patients were tested, and four tested positive for Ebola, the ministry said.

Authorities did not immediately say how many cases had been detected. "It is, on the other hand, worrying that this area is a conflict zone.It is an area with lots of displacement, so the access can be hampered in that way".

During the last major Ebola outbreak in 2014, 11,000 people died when the virus spread across the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Congo announces 4 new Ebola cases in country's northeast