DRC: EBOLA/SABC/24/5/18 SABANews 1

Health workers push a wheeled stretcher holding a newly admitted Ebola patient (Pic. ITV)

MBANDAKA – THREE patients of the deadly EBOLA virus have sneaked out of an isolation ward at a hospital in the MBANDAKA City of the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO.

The Head of the DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS Mission in MBANDAKA says the incident comes as medics race to stop the disease from spreading in the busy river port.

SABC News says HENRY GRAY has revealed TWO patients left the hospital on MONDAY, before being located the following day.

It quotes World Health Organization DRC Representative YOKOUIDE ALLARANGAR as saying ONE was found dead, and another was sent back to hospital but died shortly after.

Mr ALLARANGAR has told journalists in the CONGOLESE capital, KINSHASA, the TWO patients had left the hospital with the help of family members before heading to a place of prayer.

SABC News says Health Ministry sources who asked not to be named have revealed TWO police officers had been deployed to help track them down.

It says yet another patient left on SATURDAY, but was found alive the same day and is under observation.

The Health Ministry sources say they are running a hospital, not a prison, and they cannot lock up everything.

Another World Health Organisation Spokesperson TARIK JASAREVIC says health workers have redoubled efforts to trace contacts with the patients.

They have drawn up a list of 628 people who have had contact with known cases who will need to be vaccinated against the scaring disease.

Mr JASAREVIC says it is unfortunate but not unexpected, because it is normal for people to want their loved ones to be at home during what could be the last moments of life.

The cases are a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including use of experimental vaccines, showing old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses can hamper efforts to stem its spread.

The report has come as another WHO official warns the fight to stop the DRC NINTH confirmed outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever has reached a critical point.

Emergency Response Chief PETER SALAMA says the next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if the authorities will be able to keep it under control.

Health officials’ main concern is the presence of EBOLA in MBANDAKA, a crowded centre upstream from KINSHASA, a city of 10-MILLION people.

They have received an alert from the KINSHASA main hospital about a patient, who is not yet a suspected EBOLA case, and TWO or THREE other such alerts that have turned out to be false alarms.

The WHO says the DRC EBOLA outbreak was FIRST spotted near the town of BIKORO, about 100 kilometres south of the city, and is believed to have killed at least 27 people so far.

It says health workers are following up on THREE separate transmission chains for cases in WANGATA area of MBANDAKA, ONE linked to a funeral, ONE to a church and another to a rural health facility.

WHO Emergency Response Chief SALAMA says it is really the detective work of epidemiology that will make or break the response to this outbreak.

The disease is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who suffers severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea; and authorities FIRST discovered it in the DRC in the 1970s.

The UNITED NATIONS says EBOLA has killed more than 11-THOUSAND-300 people between 2013 and 2016 in the West AFRICAN countries of GUINEA, LIBERIA and SIERRA LEONE./Sabanews/cam

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