The Democratic Republic of the Congo has recorded its first confirmed case of Ebola in over a week, the health ministry said Thursday, although medics said they had made significant progress in their efforts to contain the disease.
The ongoing Ebola outbreak poses a significant risk of spread to these countries on the basis of proximity to the current outbreak and the current capacity of their health systems to cope with the disease.
The current outbreak is still on a low scale compared with a three-nation epidemic that occurred between 2013-15 but has stirred wide concern.
The outbreak, which began in the remote northwest and was declared in the town of Bikoro, has spread to the city of Mbandaka with a population of more than one million.
Beginning with the 1976 discovery of Ebola in an area that is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country has experienced nine outbreaks.
"This tells us the response is having an impact in those two locations", said Salama, referring to the robust ring vaccination campaign launched 2 weeks ago with Merck's VSV-EBOV. This figure includes 673 people in Mbandaka, 398 in Bikoro, 725 in Iboko, and 30 in Ingende, also located in the Equateur province.
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The patient, a known contact of someone believed to have died from Ebola on May 20, was confirmed positive on Wednesday for the hemorrhagic fever in the rural community of Iboko, the ministry said in a daily report.
Among the reported cases, 38 have been confirmed by laboratories so far.
"We have added cause for optimism because now we have reached... more than 98 percent of the contacts with vaccination", Salama said. It's the identification and follow-up of all people who may have come into contact with a person infected with the infectious disease.
World Health Organization however, said in the context of an outbreak characterized by high mortality, it can be ethically appropriate to offer individual patients investigational interventions on an emergency basis outside clinical trials.
"We're cautiously optimistic but there's a lot of very tough work to do in phase two before we say that we're on the top of this outbreak and we've learned the hard way in the past never to underestimate Ebola", Mr Salama said.
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