The number of confirmed cases in Congo's new outbreak of the Ebola virus has risen to 13, including three deaths, the health ministry said late Saturday. The World Health Organization has warned that this new outbreak of the deadly virus in North Kivu province poses a particular challenge as the region is a "war zone" with several active armed groups and thousands of displaced people, the AP reports. The nearby city of Beni and heavily traveled borders with Uganda and Rwanda also complicate efforts to contain the disease, which is spread via contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead. Congo announced the latest outbreak on Wednesday with four confirmed cases, a week after declaring the end to a previous outbreak in the northwest with 33 deaths.
It is not clear whether the new outbreak, more than 1,553 miles away, is related. The ministry noted 30 probable Ebola cases in the new outbreak and said another 33 suspected cases were under investigation, with laboratory testing underway. Overall 33 people have died, it said. The swift vaccinations of more than 3,300 people helped in containing the previous outbreak, and WHO has said it hopes to know as early as Tuesday whether the Ebola strain in this new outbreak is the one for which the vaccine can be used. The WHO emergencies director has said 3,000 vaccine doses are still in Congo's capital after being positioned there for the earlier outbreak. WHO can mobilize up to 300,000 more doses "at very short notice," a doctor said Friday.
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