Reported Ebola Cases Hits 42 In Congo - Ministry

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The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to begin deploying an experimental Ebola vaccine to treat an outbreak of the disease in the country, the Health Ministry said.

It also urged the Minister of Health to ensure alertness to combat disease in whatever cases may rise and get the ebola vaccine ready for an emergency while advising Nigerians who travel to other African countries to ensure utmost level of care to avoid getting infected.

She said, "The Senate recalls with great distress that an infected immigrant who arrived Nigeria on the 23rd of July was the index case of the ebola virus in Nigeria". So far, more than 500 people have been identified. The vaccine was developed by Merck & Co. and dispatched from Geneva by the World Health Organization, she said.

Professor William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said the vaccine could be crucial in the fight to curtail the outbreak.

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Moving the motion, Tinubu urged the Federal Government to take precautionary measures to prevent a recurrence of Ebola spread to the country.

The vaccines were seen according to Reuters to have been unloaded at the airport on Wednesday in Congo's capital Kinshasa.

The first batch of over 4,000 Ebola vaccines was sent by the World Health Organization to Kinshasa on Wednesday.

It will be reserved for people suspected of coming in contact with the disease.

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The outbreak is centred around the remote town of Bikoro in the province of Equateur, which has 31 of the cases and 274 contacts. As it stands, $1 billion of Congress' budget put aside to fight the 2015 Ebola outbreak is unlikely to be maintained after 2019 and President Donald Trump's most recent budget proposal has indicated funding reductions for foreign aid.

This geographical placement makes it more likely the virus could break out into a wider area, raising fears of another epidemic.

"We are now tracing more than 4,000 contacts of patients and they have spread out all over the region of northwest Congo, so they have to be followed up and the only way to reach them is motorcycles", Salama said.

Officials say the immediate risk is to the provincial capital Mbandaka, with about one million inhabitants.

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