DR Congo to launch first Ebola vaccination programme

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The Democratic Republic of Congo is preparing to launch an Ebola vaccination programme on Monday in a bid to stop the latest outbreak of the deadly viral disease from spreading.

The first wave of immunisations will target healthcare staff in the northwest of the country who have had direct or indirect contact with ill patients, the Congolese government said.

Among them are Hilaire Manzibe, a doctor at Wangata Reference Hospital in Mbandaka, who treated a patient on May 1 who arrived from Bikoro, the epicentre of the current outbreak, with symptoms of fever and vomiting.

Alarm bells sounded last week after the outbreak, previously reported in a remote rural area of the country, notched up its first confirmed case in Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million.

World Health Organization (WHO) has dispatched 35 immunisation experts, including 16 mobilised during the last deadly outbreak in West Africa, which began in 2013. The rest of the team is made up of newly trained Congolese staff.

Around 600 vaccinations are to be administered. WHO has put the death toll from the current outbreak at 25. 

Donors had promised 300,000 doses of the vaccine, a government spokesperson said, of which around 5,400 have already been received.


SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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