Travel Alert: East African Countries issue deadly Ebola virus outbreak alert

What is Ebola and why is it back?

WHO gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

West Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola over a two-year period beginning in March 2014; a total of 28,616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths, according to the WHO. After that, vaccination of health care workers and people who have been in contact with cases will begin.

"We are well aware of the outbreak in some parts of our neighbours, as the World Health Organisation reported".

The vaccine, which is designed for use in a so-called "ring vaccination" approach, was tested in Guinea in 2015 at the end of a vast Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

They also said a staggering 393 people who had come into contact with the epidemic were being followed up after an outbreak in Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata was confirmed.

Information about the outbreak in Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata in Equateur province was still limited, the WHO said, but at present the outbreak does not meet the criteria for declaring a "public health event of global concern", which would trigger the formation of an emergency WHO committee.

"This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic". However, it is being taken very seriously given the recent history of Ebola outbreaks and proximity of this area to the Congo River, linking local populations to the major cities of Kinshasa, Brazzaville and Bangui. While outbreaks in remote areas usually mean the disease can be contained, on this occasion suspected cases have been reported in three locations spread over 60km.

Dr Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response for the World Health Organization, said: "Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease".

"This is an experimental vaccine, not a licensed product, and there are a lot of complications", including ensuring it is stored at the correct temperature, Salama said. Mobile laboratories have been sent to Mbandaka and Bikoro. That work is vital both to encourage people to agree to be vaccinated and to figure out if any local practices are increasing the risk the virus will spread. Bikoro hospital has sealed off a ward to diagnose suspected Ebola patients and provide treatment, according to UNICEF.

Elsewhere in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Direct Relief is also supporting the efforts of Save the Children to respond to the needs of displaced people, and continues to be in dialogue with Congolese health authorities in terms of where best to meet health needs throughout the country.

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