Flash – DR Congo rolls out prototype Ebola drugs, while the death toll rises to 67


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

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

It states that 11 people have recovered from the virus and 67 people have died.

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

"These two people are among the first 10 patients to receive the therapeutic molecule mAb114," the ministry said in a statement.

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

Earlier this week, the Department of Health said that four other experimental drugs had been approved for the treatment of infected patients.

On Friday, the World Health Organization warned that signs that the virus had spread to the city of Oicha in North Kivu could frustrate the attempts to contain the virus.

Although Oicha himself is not under rebel control, WHO chief Peter Salama said that the city was completely surrounded by territory held by a feared Ugandan rebellious group known as Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Large numbers of civilians have been killed in unrest around Oicha, while aid workers, priests and government employers are currently being held hostage by insurgents.

On Friday, military troops were attacked in Beni, in the heart of the Ebola-affected region, military and civilian sources said. The attack was blamed for ADF rebels.

No official toll was provided, but locals who were contacted by AFP on Saturday spoke of about 10 murdered soldiers.

The current Ebola outbreak is the 10th to hit the DRC since 1976, when the disease was first identified and named after a river in the north of the country.

© 2018 AFP

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