GENEVA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of the Congo faces a "very high" health risk from Ebola after the disease has been confirmed in a large city patient, the World Health Organization said on Friday with "beforehand.
The risk to countries in the region was now "high," raised by " moderate, "but global risk remained" low. "
The revaluation occurred after the first confirmed case in Mbandaka, a city of approximately 1.5 million people, and earlier reports of the disease were in remote areas where Ebola was present may have spread more slowly.
"The confirmed case in Mbandaka, a major urban center on the main national and international F By-pass, road and inland routes increase the risk of spreading within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring countries, "said WHO.
WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama told reporters on Thursday that the risk assessment will be reviewed.
"We certainly do not try to cause panic in the national or international community," he said.
"What we are saying, however, is that urban Ebola is a very different phenomenon from rural Ebola, because we know that people in urban areas can have much more contacts, which means that urban Ebola is causing an exponential increase in cases This is how rural Ebola tries to fight. "
Later On Friday, WHO will convene an Emergency Committee of Experts to discuss the international response to the outbreak and determine if it is an "emergency for public health of international importance".
The nightmare scenario is an outbreak in Kinshasa, a crowded city where millions live in unsanitary slums that are not connected to a sewage system.
According to WHO, there were 21 suspected, 20 likely and 3 confirmed cases of Ebola between 4 April and 15 May, a total of 44 cases, including 15 deaths.
Mbandaka had three suspected cases in addition to the confirmed case.
The WHO sends 7,540 doses of an experimental vaccine to stop the outbreak in its tracks, and 4,300 doses have already arrived in Kinshasa. It is used to protect health workers and to "ring" the contacts in any case.
The vaccines are enough to vaccinate 50 rings from 150 people, the WHO said.
By 15 May, 527 contacts had been identified and tracked and monitored, it said.
Reporting by Tom Miles; Arrangement by Nick Macfie