The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday expressed fears that continued “intense transmission’’ of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where deaths from a nine-month-old epidemic have hit 994 and expected to exceed 1,000 within hours.
Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said this at a news conference in Geneva.
The WHO plans to introduce an unlicensed new Ebola vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, in addition to a Merck vaccine already being used, as “another tool in the toolbox,’’ Ryan said.
But security incidents continue to plague the response to the outbreak, including a would-be assault on a facility on Thursday, slowing vaccination and daily checks on some 12,000 people potentially exposed to the virus, he said.
The Ebola outbreak in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the tenth outbreak in the country since 1976.
In the two provinces affected by this latest outbreak – North Kivu and Ituri – insecurity and armed conflicts made the response more difficult than in previous outbreaks.