Doctors sweat 1st urban case of Ebola

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Giving reasons why it was not safe for her compatriots to travel to DRC, the Director of Health services Dr Khumo Seipone said Ebola is a highly contagious and virulent disease that now has no cure.

"All must be done to isolate the Ebola cases, especially since there has been a case in Mbandaka city", said EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Christos Stylianides.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is convening an emergency meeting on Friday over the latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The ministry said just one person had been confirmed dead from the virus, but 25 people are suspected to have died from it.

The current outbreak involves the same strain of the virus that hit three West African countries in 2013-15 and sparked an global panic.

The WHO was fiercely criticised over its handling of the 2013 outbreak and has pledged to improve emergency response.

"So in that respect it's unique", said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, who oversees an extensive research portfolio that includes studies on the Ebola virus.

The deadly disease has claimed many victims
GETTY OUTBREAK The deadly disease has claimed many victims

The outbreak tests the new experimental Ebola vaccine, which proved highly effective in the West Africa outbreak a few years ago.

Peter Salama, in charge of emergency response at the World Health Organization, has said the spread to a city complicated the fight against Ebola, which depends on identifying and isolating suspected cases.

"If you remember from the previous outbreak, it took a whole lot for the worldwide community to understand it's a risky disease.Today it seems as if as soon as the first case was declared at least a lot of people are coming in to help", said Axelle Ronsse of the organisation. The virus was initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys.

He said the disease could have been taken there by people who attended the funeral of an Ebola victim in Bikoro, south of Mbandaka, before travelling to the city. One challenge will be keeping the vaccine cold in a region with poor infrastructure and patchy electricity.

Many of these people were in remote areas, Mr Salama said.

Similarly, the European Commission has released around 1.6 million euros (1.9 million dollars) to help tackle an Ebola outbreak in Congo, as well as organising flights to transport emergency staff and equipment to the affected areas.

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