News / Africa

WHO: Dozens Monitored for Possible Ebola in DRC

VOA News

The World Health Organization says 80 people are now being monitored for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where officials reported an outbreak of the disease this week.

The United Nations agency said Wednesday it was awaiting lab results to confirm that the disease was definitely Ebola.  

The WHO said the outbreak began with a pregnant woman in Equateur province who fell sick with Ebola-like symptoms after butchering an animal killed by her husband.  

The WHO said she died August 11 at a private clinic in the village of Isaka.  Since then, the agency said, 12 people who had close contact with the woman have died, including relatives, clinic staff and those who handled the bodies of the deceased during funerals.

The agency statement said it appeared the outbreak was unrelated to the Ebola epidemic in four West African countries that has killed more than 1,400 people in recent months.  

It said the deceased and their contacts have no history of traveling to or meeting any people from those countries.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development is providing an additional $5 million to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  

The new funding will be used for health equipment, training of health care workers and support of public outreach campaigns.

USAID has now committed nearly $20 million to combat Ebola since the outbreak was first reported in March.

A shortage of protective equipment is one of the factors contributing to the epidemic.

On Wednesday, a Senegalese epidemiologist was flown to Germany after contracting the virus from an Ebola testing lab in Sierra Leone.  After the infection, the WHO said Tuesday it had shut the lab in Kailahun and withdrawn its staff.

The worst affected countries are Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where the government has sealed off an entire slum in the capital, Monrovia.

In Liberia, where the highest number of deaths have been reported, some government officials are fleeing the country or just not reporting for work.  The situation drove President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday to order all ministers to return to their duties.  Liberian officials say several ministers who defied the order have been fired.

Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said the number of cases in Liberia was rising rapidly and overstretching its staff.

The group's emergency coordinator, Lindis Hurum, said an Ebola treatment center the group opened last week was already full.

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