Ebola returns to Congo only days after previous outbreak was declared over

BREAKING

Another Ebola virus outbreak has been confirmed in DR Congo

The two outbreaks are separated by more than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles).

The confirmation of Ebola return to the DRC was earlier reported by Governor Julien Paluku of the North Kivu province.

Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, regional director for Africa, says the proximity to a city of more than 230,000 people and an global border also complicates the response.

The earlier outbreak was tackled with 3300 doses of an experimental new vaccine. "It's sad", says Yap Boum, a microbiologist based in Yaoundé who works with Doctors Without Borders, a nongovernmental organization that helped run an Ebola vaccine campaign against the previous outbreak.

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Worldwide experts set up a laboratory today in Beni, WHO and Congolese officials said.

Congo has dealt with Ebola for decades and this is its tenth outbreak of the virus.

Twenty people have already died from haemorrhagic fevers in and around Mangina, a densely populated town about 30 kilometres southwest of the city of Beni and 100 kilometres from the Ugandan border, the ministry said in its statement on Wednesday, without saying when the deaths occurred.

Ebola is considered endemic to Congo because of its equatorial forest ecosystem. The ministry says four of six samples sent to the capital for analysis came back positive for Ebola. "This is an active conflict zone".

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"This new cluster is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were operating in the north-west", said Dr Peter Salama, the WHO's deputy director general of emergency preparedness and response. "The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population". It spreads through contact with bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead.

Ebola is a virus-caused haemorrhagic fever with a high fatality rate and in extreme cases causes bleeding from internal organs, the mouth, eyes or ears.

An outbreak concentrated in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea killed at least 11,300 people between 2013 and 2016. "This outbreak comes at a time when the country is already unstable, with millions of people caught up in humanitarian crises as a result of ongoing conflicts".

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