Ebola death toll reaches 12 in Congo’s latest outbreak

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Congo's health minister Saturday flew by helicopter to Bikoro and Iboko to see the deployment of health workers who will be tracing those who have been in contact with Ebola cases and inoculating them with a new experimental vaccine.

Bikoro Hospital director Dr Serge Ngalebato said he and other health officials were vaccinated for protection when treating Ebola patients.

Vaccination is expected to start in Bikoro on Monday, targeting people who have been in contact with confirmed Ebola cases and contacts of these contacts.

The on Friday decided not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, but it called the risk of spread within "very high" and warned nine neighboring countries that the risk to them was high. said there should be no restrictions to worldwide travel or trade.

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UNICEF staffer Jean Claude Nzengu, center, talks with members of an Ebola vaccination team as they prepare to administer the vaccine in an Ebola-affected community in the north-western city of Mbandaka, in Congo, Friday, May 25. NOK 2 million of this amount will be used on equipment developed in Norway and specialist personnel who will train health care workers in the use of this equipment.

The World Medical Association (WMA) has echoed the call from the World Health Organisation for a vigorous response to the latest Ebola outbreak in the Congo, which has so far caused more than 20 deaths. Complicating factors include its spread to a major city, that health workers are among those infected and the existence of three or four "separate epicenters", making finding and monitoring the contacts of infected people more hard. "May God protect us in any case", Grace Ekofo, a 23-year-old student in Kinshasa, told The Associated Press.

Amid worries of the spread of Ebola, several schools in the Iboko health zone, about 180 kilometers (112 miles) southeast of Mbandaka, have been closed, according to reports by United Nations -backed Radio Okapi.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the disease was first identified.

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"Some people don't believe in the Ebola virus or in the medication provided; others are afraid of it".

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. It is spread via contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead. Symptoms of Ebola include vomiting, fever, muscle pain, diarrhea, and external or internal bleeding.

The plan also sets out targets for the disease response, including that 100 percent of new cases should come from known contacts and none of the cases should be health care workers.

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