Drugs approved for treating Ebola in DRC

Grant Boone
June 10, 2018

The World Health Organisation (WHO) experts said they have recorded 62 Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during this latest outbreak, with 38 confirmations and 27 deaths.

According to World Health Organization statistics, as of Wednesday, a total of 58 EVD cases have been reported, including 27 deaths, 37 lab-confirmed, 14 probable and seven suspected cases.

Health workers have so far tracked down 91 per cent of the more than 600 people, who are known to have had contact with infected patients, Of those, who were tracked down, 98 per cent were vaccinated.

Four of the five approved drugs are now in the country.

"Phase one, to protect urban centers and towns, has gone well and we can be cautiously optimistic".

"What this is telling us is the response (the WHO's vaccination program) is having an impact in those two locations", said Salama.

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. This is the first time such treatments are available in the midst of an Ebola outbreak. 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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Without careful reporting, news of a suicide can disturb those who are already feeling vulnerable and hopeless, he added. On the darkest days, these ideations were pronounced, detailed and dangerously close to an actionable plan.

Still, everyone remains on "high alert", he said, adding that two new confirmed cases in Iboko at the end of May and a single case on June 2 "tells us a lot about why we need to refocus our response".

An AP report Friday quoted DRC's health ministry saying another Ebola case had been confirmed even as the pace of new cases slows down.

The area had no infrastructure and could be covered only by motorbike, with several hours needed to trace every contact, he said.

"This is a major logistical and boots-on-the-ground epidemiological endeavor now", Salama said, adding that work there will go on for weeks.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health approved the use of these experimental treatments, some used on patients in past outbreaks, during the current outbreak.

The Catholic Church in Congo said emergency measures will remain indefinitely in place in parishes at risk of Ebola, and urged effective action against the disease by the government of President Joseph Kabila. "We've learned the hard way in the past to never underestimate Ebola".

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