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DR Congo rolls out prototype Ebola drugs as death toll rises to 67

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[FILE] In this handout photograph released by UNICEF on May 13, 2018, health workers wear protective equipment as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital – the epicenter of the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo – on May 12, 2018, which has sealed off a ward to diagnose suspected Ebola patients and provide treatment.<br />The outbreak in the region northeast of Kinshasa near the border with the Republic of Congo has so far killed 18 people around the town of Bikoro in Equateur province, according to the WHO. A report from the provincial council of ministers, seen by AFP, said there were “three suspected cases” in the region’s capital Mbandaka, which has 700,000 inhabitants.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / UNICEF / MARK NAFTALIN / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO /UNICEF/MARK NAFTALIN” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

An outbreak of Ebola in eastern DR Congo has killed 67 people this month, authorities said Saturday, as they roll out a battery of new drugs to tackle the virus amid concerns it has spread to a rebel-encircled area.

A total of 105 cases have been reported since the flare-up of Ebola began on August 1 in Mangina in North Kivu province, according to the country’s health ministry, out of which 77 have been confirmed by laboratory tests.

It said 11 people have recovered from the virus and 67 had died.

Health minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga travelled to Mangina on Thursday and saw two patients being discharged after they were treated with a new prototype treatment called mAb114.

“These two people are among the first 10 patients to have received the therapeutic molecule mAb114,” the ministry said in a statement.

Developed in the United States, the prototype drug is the first therapeutic drug to be used in an active Ebola epidemic in the DRC.

Earlier this week the health ministry said four other experimental drugs had been approved for treating infected patients.

On Friday the World Health Organisation warned that signs that the virus had spread to the city of Oicha in North Kivu province could frustrate efforts to contain the virus.

While Oicha itself is not under rebel control, the WHO’s emergency response chief, Peter Salama said the city is entirely surrounded by territory held by a feared Ugandan insurgent group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Large numbers of civilians have been killed by unrest around Oicha, while aid workers, priests and government employers are currently being held hostage there by insurgents.The current outbreak is the 10th to strike the DRC since 1976, when Ebola was first identified and named after a river in the north of the country.

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