Ebola cases in DR Congo rise to 78, 44 dead

An Ebola patient is lifted up by two medical workers after being admitted into a Biosecure Emergency care Unite (CUBE) on August 15, 2018 in Beni. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Ebola cases in DR Congo rise to 78, 44 dead

  • At least 1,500 people had been potentially exposed to the deadly Ebola virus in DRC’s North Kivu region
  • More than 500 people including health workers have been vaccinated against the disease

BENI, DR Congo: Seventy-eight cases of Ebola have been recorded in an outbreak in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, claiming 44 lives, DRC officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
The latest outbreak of the viral disease, which is highly contagious and frequently fatal if untreated, has prompted a visit by the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health ministry said in a statement.
“In all, 78 cases of haemorrhagic fever have been reported in the region, of which 51 are confirmed and 27 probable” while “24 suspect cases are under investigation,” according to reports from Congolese authorities and the WHO.
Confirmed cases are verified by way of laboratory tests on samples taken from patients. The cases treated as “probable” often concern diseased people who had a close epidemiological link with confirmed cases, but have not been tested.
Congolese authorities reported “two deaths of confirmed cases at Beni” — a trading town with a population approaching a quarter of a million people in North Kivu province.
There were also “five new confirmed cases at Mabalako, including a health worker at the Health Reference Center in Mangina,” the epicenter of the outbreak in the Beni region.
“We are expecting to see more cases,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

The WHO said it had deployed more than 100 experts including epidemiologists to the towns of Beni and Mangina, to oversee tracing, vaccination and safe burials.
But in line with UN security, there are so-called ‘red zones’ near the epicenter of Mangina which aid workers cannot enter, Jasarevic said.

More than 500 people including health workers have been vaccinated against the disease in Congo’s latest outbreak, the WHO said. Some 1,500 people have been identified as contacts of people infected with the disease that causes fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
The outbreak is the tenth to strike the DRC since 1976, when Ebola was first identified and named after a river in the north of the country.
It affects a part of the country wracked by violence for more than 20 years, from all-out war to insurgency and sustained ethnic clashes.
Forty-one deaths were reported in North Kivu and three in neighboring Ituri region to the north, according to the health ministry.
Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga had talks with the director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, regarding CDC training programs for epidemiologists in the field, an official statement said.
The ministry’s directorate for disease control announced on Tuesday that doctors in Beni had started to use a novel treatment called mAb114 to treat patients with Ebola.
The treatment is “the first therapeutic drug against the virus to be used in an active Ebola epidemic in the DRC,” it said.
mAb114 is an antibody initially isolated from a survivor of an Ebola outbreak in the western DRC city of Kikwit in 1995, it added.
Ebola has long been considered incurable, though swift isolation and the rapid treatment of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration has helped some of the patients to survive.
The quest for a vaccine grew increasingly urgent during an Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people in West African neighboring states Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15.


Kremlin laments US ‘unpredictability’ under Trump

Updated 32 min 20 sec ago
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Kremlin laments US ‘unpredictability’ under Trump

  • Peskov’s comments come two weeks ahead of a slated face-to-face between President Donald Trump and Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina
  • Relations between the two countries have hit new lows with American officials planning to roll out fresh sanctions against Moscow

SINGAPORE: The Kremlin hit out Wednesday at the “unpredictability” of the United States under the Trump administration, saying it was causing “deep global concern.”
“The fact that America has become unpredictable lately is no secret to anyone,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Dozhd TV during a visit by President Vladimir Putin to a regional summit in Singapore.
“Such unpredictability from the largest country, the most powerful economy in the world, is the subject of deep global concern,” he added.
Peskov’s comments come two weeks ahead of a slated face-to-face between President Donald Trump and Putin at a G20 summit in Argentina.
Relations between the two countries have hit new lows with American officials planning to roll out fresh sanctions against Moscow in response to the botched poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.
Western governments have accused Russia of being behind the plot which saw Skripal and his daughter poisoned with a nerve agent. Two British citizens were also poisoned, one of whom died.
Moscow has denied being behind the brazen hit and has condemned efforts to sanction it over the incident.
“We do not recognize these unilateral restrictions... and we consider them illegitimate,” Peskov said of the threatened sanctions, adding they would only “further complicate” Russia-US relations.
World leaders are currently meeting in Singapore, which is hosting the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
Trump is not at the gathering and has sent Vice President Mike Pence instead.
Peskov said “no separate meeting” was currently planned between Putin and Pence. But he added that there was no need for a face-to-face given Trump and Putin will soon meet in Buenos Aires.