Ebola patients die after escaping quarantine in Congo

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Congo's health ministry announced six new confirmed Ebola cases and two new suspected cases on Tuesday as vaccinations entered a second day in an effort to contain the deadly virus in a city of more than 1 million.

Both patients passed away within a day of leaving the facility.

Two of the patients who managed to slip out of the isolation ward in a hospital in the city of almost 1.2 million people are now dead, but the third patient is alive and now under observation. The two others who attended the prayer gathering left overnight Monday; one died outside of quarantine, and another was brought back to the hospital and died there.

Rollin warned that the large geographic area between Mbandaka and the remote towns where the outbreak's first cases were reported must be scoured for the infected and the people who have come into contact with them.

"In all three cases, every effort was made by staff at the hospital to convince the patients - and their families - not to leave and to continue their treatment", Brienne Prusak, a press officer for MSF, as Doctors Without Borders is frequently known, said in a statement. "However, the most effective measures remain the respect of hygiene measures, the rapid management of cases, and the follow-up of contacts", he added.

The WHO is also in talks with the Kinshasa government to get its approval to use Mapp Biopharmaceutical's experimental ZMapp treatment. That number could dramatically increase if the disease were to spread widely in a major city.

Health officials are particularly concerned by the disease's presence in Mbandaka, a crowded trading hub upstream from Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people.

"In the next five days 100 people must be vaccinated, including 70 health professionals", Health Minister Oly Ilunga said.

"It is unfortunate but not unexpected".

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: "The UK's robust response to the Ebola outbreak demonstrates how seriously we take such health threats around the world - and how quickly we act to contain them".

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There are now 28 confirmed Ebola cases in the country -, 21 probable ones and two suspected, the health ministry said. World Health Organization attributed the discrepancy to several issues, including communication delays in remote locations and constant reclassification of cases.

Yakouide denied it, saying no cases had been confirmed in the capital and warning against spreading false reports which "could create panic and undermine the effectiveness of the response to the Ebola outbreak".

The WHO has ruled that the outbreak is not yet a global health emergency but nine neighbouring countries are on high alert.

Ebola responders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are revealing more about local practices and community mistrust, which in some instances are hampering the actions needed to curb the spread of the disease in the country's outbreak hot spots.

"The last big Ebola outbreak in 2014-15 showed the devastation that can occur when the virus gains a foothold in an urban setting".

Front-line workers are especially at risk of contracting the virus, which spreads in contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, including the dead.

Ebola causes fever, severe headaches and in some cases hemorrhaging.

The virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth, and can also spread through sexual contact.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa, also told AFP she was "very confident" the agency's response this time was robust and efficient. Unfortunately for those doctors and health officials in a race against the clock, the most deadly of the three, the Zaire strain, is the one responsible for the current outbreak with a mortality rate of 60 to 90 percent.

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