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The virus is spread by close contact with the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms and with objects such as sheets that have been contaminated by those fluids. Downstream is Congo's capital, Kinshasa, with a population of roughly 10 million.

He said the lists of those exposed to suspected Ebola cases would receive, for the first time in Congo, a new component of response to an Ebola outbreak: vaccinations.

The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced the finding, after laboratory tests conducted by the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) confirmed one specimen as positive for EVD. The city is about 93 miles from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week, said Congo's Health Minister Oly Ilunga.

More than 110 Red Cross volunteers in Bikoro and Mbandaka are working to alert surrounding communities and disinfect houses where cases have been suspected. By its nature, Ebola virus disease outbreaks draw wide public concern and attention.

A total of 44 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of the disease have been reported since the Ebola outbreak was discovered.

At present, 514 people who may have been in contact with infected people have been notified by the national health authorities, and they're now under monitoring. Three nurses are among the suspected cases and one is among the dead.

UNITED NATIONS • Two-thirds of people in the world will be living in cities by 2050, and the boom will be concentrated in three countries - India, China and Nigeria - according to United Nations estimates.

Additionally, the World Health Organization confirmed 4,000 doses of Merck's Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV are being sent to Bikoro.

"We expect an increase in the number of cases confirmed in the coming days and weeks, so we are stepping up our intervention efforts because medical teams on the ground will need more support and capacity and increased access to medicines and equipment", health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga told Al Jazeera.

GENEVA The UN World Health Organization will convene an Emergency Committee meeting on Friday to consider the worldwide risks of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said on Thursday.

One of the driving factors that allowed the outbreak in West Africa to spread so widely between the three countries was that Ebola was not thought to be endemic to West Africa. To tackle the epidemic and limit as much as possible the risk of it spreading, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is stepping up its response in the affected areas (Mbandaka and Bikoro).

"We are very concerned and we are preparing for all scenarios including worst-case scenarios", said Peter Salama, director of the WHO Emergency Management Program during his visit accompanied by Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Kinshasa earlier this week. "They are our eyes and ears on the ground". Basic infrastructure - hospitals, roads, electricity - is a major obstacle in remote areas.

"They need to be activated across the province and even beyond", he added.

Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly and is fatal in up to 90% of cases.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization delivered 4000 injections of an experimental vaccine with proven efficacy in recent trials, and more batches are expected soon.


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