At least 680 people received a vaccine for the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo this week, it was reported, as efforts to stave off the spread of the disease intensified.
Congo’s Health Ministry said that 500 people were vaccinated in Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million located on the Congo River, since May 21, The Associated Press reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that there might be up to 300 cases in the coming months, AP reported, but that figure could double if the virus spreads more in urban areas.
Congo’s Health Ministry said late on Monday, according to Reuters, that there had been 54 cases of Ebola in the new outbreak. Some 35 cases have been confirmed, 13 probable, and six suspected. It said that 25 people have died, according to the news outlet.
WHO emergencies chief Peter Salama said a rollout of the vaccine in Congo has gone “quite smoothly,” according to WebMD.
“We can’t conclude we have safeguarded the city of Mbandaka, but so far there hasn’t been an explosive increase in cases … We have reason to be cautiously optimistic,” Salama was quoted by the website as saying.
The agency said that officials need more treatment, isolation, and triage centers to deal with the virus, including one in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, located downstream from Mbandaka with a population of more than 10 million.
Based on the initial assessment, the WHO said that “there is an approximate movement of over 1,000 people per day by river, road, and air at major points of entry,” AP reported.
Meanwhile, there is a significant risk of Ebola spreading to other countries in Africa, but a risk of global transmission is low, officials told AP.
In 2014, an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, affecting Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, left more than 11,000 people dead. There were isolated cases reported in the United Kingdom, Senegal, Spain, and the United States.
Since Ebola was discovered in Congo in 1976, there have been numerous outbreaks of the disease in the country, the 11th largest by area in the world.
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