Up to 20 Ebola cases, and three deaths, reported in Congo

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The Ebola outbreak in Congo represents a "high risk" for the country, the World Health Organisation said Thursday.

Salama said that while it's best to "never, ever underestimate Ebola virus disease", the risk on a global level from this outbreak was very low given the remote location, which is approximately 1,400 kilometers north of Kinshasa. "We could potentially mount a campaign within around a week given all of the conditions... are met", Peter Salama, the agency's health emergencies chief, told reporters during a conference call.

A 39-year-old experienced vomiting and bleeding and died on the way to the hospital in the Likati area of Bas Uele Province. A caregiver and the motorcycle driver who travelled with the first patient have also died, Salama said.

"We can not underestimate the logistical and practical challenges associated with this response at a very remote part of the country", Salama said on the call. "As of now, we do not know the full extent of the outbreak, and as we deploy teams over the next few weeks we'll begin to understand more and more exactly what we are dealing with, and we'll be able to update you further". The death rate is high, often surpassing 50 percent, particularly with the Zaire strain, which has been confirmed in two cases in this outbreak. Indeed, in 2014, while the world's attention was fixed on the explosive epidemic in West Africa, Congolese officials "quietly got on with dealing with an outbreak" of 66 cases in another remote area that eventually took 49 lives.

But Moeti said she's "optimistic" that the outbreak will be halted quickly.

He also said there are only 20 kilometres of paved roads in that area and virtually no functional telecommunications.

In order to employ it as an experimental vaccine, World Health Organization needs to seek the permission of the national regulatory authority in the Democratic Republic of Congo to use the treatment under what Salama called an "expanded access framework for compassionate use".

During that epidemic, a vaccine made by Merck was successfully tested in hard-hit Guinea.

Dr Mtika added that the residents were supposed to give information to health experts once they discovered that a foreigner had entered the country and suspected that such a person had the symptoms of the disease.

Airplanes and helicopters are being used to bring in health teams, who have already managed to track down more than 400 people who have had contact with the known cases, Salama said. "We're expecting to get to the epicenter by the weekend".

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