Health Care

Church in DRC maintains measures against Ebola

Church in DRC maintains measures against Ebola”

In spite of reports of the reduction in new Ebola cases, the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has said that measures aimed at minimising the risk of the spread of Ebola would remain in place until further notice.

There are now 38 confirmed cases of the virus, including 13 deaths, the health ministry said late Thursday.

The Ministry of Health, together with the World Health Organization (WHO), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), and other worldwide organizations, have been carrying out a vaccination campaign in the three areas for the past two weeks, and about 1,400 people have already been vaccinated.

Tedros, who goes by his first name, told Reuters he would be traveling to DRC on Sunday to check on progress 1 month after the outbreak began in the rural Bikoro health zone, which would mark his second visit to the outbreak region.

Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, co-adjutor archbishop of Kinshasa who previously served in the Diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, where the outbreak occurred, made a decision to suspend administering sacraments to protect churchgoers from contracting the disease.

"We are cautiously optimistic, but there is a lot of very tough work to do to be able say we are on top of the outbreak", Salama said.

"This tells us the response is having an impact in those two locations", said Salama, referring to the robust ring vaccination campaign launched 2 weeks ago with Merck's VSV-EBOV.

It is the capital of Equateur province, where the small town of Bikoro also is located.

"We have added cause for optimism because now we have reached... more than 98 percent of the contacts with vaccination", Salama said.

The new case is in the remote Iboko health zone in Congo's northwest.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

While Ebola's spread to a major city has complicated efforts to track all contacts of those infected, the presence of the virus in Iboko poses another world of problems.

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

"It's clearly very hard to evaluate efficacy of Ebola products in outbreaks", said Moorthy, who said scientists rely on efficacy data derived from experiments in non-human primates (monkey models).

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

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