Congo's Ebola outbreak in 'new phase' after urban case


"The most important thing is to stop the spread of the disease, and to that end, what they have to do is track down everybody - people who have contracted Ebola or even died from Ebola", CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta reports.

Congo's health ministry says 4,000 doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine have arrived in the capital, Kinshasa, amid the latest outbreak of the deadly disease.

Three nurses are among the suspected cases, and one is among the dead. This brings to three the number of confirmed Ebola cases.

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World Health Organization estimates that no less than 39 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of Ebola have been recorded in the DRC between April 4 and May 13.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone", he said, adding he is anxious because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province. It will be reserved for people suspected of coming in contact with the disease.

An expert committee will decide in its emergency meeting on Friday whether to declare a "public health emergency of global concern", which would trigger more worldwide involvement, mobilizing research and resources, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

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Ilunga said Congo now is entering an urban phase of the outbreak, with higher spread potential. Health experts are already tracing 500 contacts, he said. "So it means this first shipment would be probably enough for around 25-26 rings - each around one confirmed case".

WHO is also working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other partners to strengthen the capacity of health facilities to treat Ebola patients in special isolation wards.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to neighbouring west African countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people out of almost 29,000 registered cases.

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This is the ninth time that the DRC has been dealing with the Ebola epidemic since 1976.