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Congo reports one new Ebola death, prepares for vaccinations

By Daniel Uria
Congo reports one new Ebola death, prepares for vaccinations
Visitors are screened for the Ebola virus at the Economic Community of West African States Parliament secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria. A total of 26 people have died from the virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo,as health organizations prepare to administer vaccines on Monday. Photo by STR/EPA

May 20 (UPI) -- The Democratic Republic of Congo's health ministry announced a new death in the Ebola outbreak Sunday, as the city of Mbandaka prepares to administer vaccinations.

A total of 26 people have died in Congo's Equateur province since the outbreak began and four new cases of Ebola virus have been confirmed by the country's health ministry.

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There have been 46 total cases of the hemorrhagic fever reported, including 21 confirmed cases of Ebola, 21 probable cases and four suspected cases.

Health authorities plan to begin administering vaccines in Mbandaka, which is home to 1.2 million people, on Monday in an attempt to "ringfence" the outbreak and keep it from spreading.

About 4,000 doses of the vaccine have been delivered to the country and officials said more are expected to arrive.

Congo Minister of Health Oly Ilunga said the vaccines would initially target a group of about 600 people, including "the health staff, the contacts of the sick and the contacts of the contacts."

The World Health Organization on Friday advised nine neighboring countries, including Congo-Brazzaville and Central African Republic, they are at high risk of spread for the disease. The WHO also determined the outbreak shouldn't be considered an international health emergency.

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