The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that the Democratic Republic of Congo is once again facing an outbreak of Ebola.
Health experts identified two more suspected cases of the virus in Congo on Saturday, a day after the government declared an outbreak of the disease that killed a man.
The government and WHO officials reached a remote area of Bas-Uele province in northeastern Congo near the border with the Central African Republic on Saturday for a field investigation, on the same day that Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga announced that three people had died of the virus in the area.
Experts say to prevent the spread of the virus they need to track down, test, isolate and treat all suspected cases. They also need to protect health workers and educate the population about hygiene measures.
Between the 2014-15 outbreak, 815 suspected cases of Ebola in health workers were confirmed. Two thirds of workers that contracted the disease, died.
“The first case and possibly the index case, a 39-year-old male, presented onset of symptoms on 22 April, 2017, and deceased on arrival at the health facility,” a WHO statement said.
“Two contacts of this case are being investigated: a person who took care of him during transport to the health care facility, he has since developed similar symptoms, and a moto-taxi driver who transported the patient to the health care facility,” it said, adding that the taxi driver had died.
Within the last 24 hours the number of people with suspected cases of Ebola has risen to 11. Three have died of fever.
The largest outbreak of the virus killed over 11,300 people in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and infected more than 28,000. In 2014, Ebola caught the attention of the world when it peaked in West Africa and infected workers from the West. Active virus transmission ended last year.
Congo is currently the country that has reported the most outbreaks of Ebola, the latest case being its eighth.
The virus was first detected in 1976, eponymous of the nearby river that runs through dense tropical forests.
Reuters reports that the GAVI global vaccine alliance said on Friday some 300,000 emergency doses of an Ebola vaccine developed by Merck could be available in case of a large-scale outbreak and that it stood ready to support the Congo government on the matter.