First death in Congo's new ebola outbreak confirmed

A passenger is screened at the JKIA in Nairobi in August 2015 /FILE

The Democratic Republic of Congo announced on Thursday the first confirmed death in a new outbreak of Ebola virus and said 11 other people were now confirmed to be infected, including three medical staff.

The nurse died overnight at a hospital in nearby Ikoko Impenge, where four new suspected cases of Ebola have been reported, Health Minister Oly Ilunga said at a news conference. It has also confirmed that there are 11 other people that are now infected with Ebola.

In Geneva, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said lab tests in the DRC confirmed the presence of Ebola virus in two out of five samples collected from patients.

The health minister added that Nigeria was considering sending a team of health workers to the DRC to help contain the outbreak.

FAAN's spokesperson, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu said relevant agencies including the Port Health Services have been mobilized and are collaborating effectively to ensure the safety of passengers and other airport users.

"What we will do is to set up an emergency operation centre which will be chaired by Dr. Babasanya, who actually led our efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Guinea during the outbreak in 2014. We are trying to stabilise all five cases because there are no deaths yet, but all of the sick are presenting signs of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and intense fatigue", Ngalebato said.

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"Of great concern to the Federal Executive Council is the outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo".

17 people are reported to have died from the latest outbreak in the town of Bikoro, according to the country's health ministry.

This came after two cases of Ebola were confirmed in regions of Bikoro.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.

Further downstream the river flows past Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa and Brazzaville, capital of neighboring Congo Republic - two cities with a combined population of over 12 million people.

Experts fear it could have an "international impact", considering how quickly the virus decimated West Africa between 2014 and 2016. This was well contained through the efficient coordination among the government, health department, worldwide partners and the WHO.

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