The Democratic Republic of Congo said as many as 13 people have died of Ebola in a separate outbreak from that raging in three West African nations. Laboratory tests were positive for Ebola in two cases in a remote village in the northwest, and 11 other deaths are suspected of being due to the virus, Information Minister Lambert Mende said on Monday. The strain of Ebola in the Congo is different to that in West Africa, Mr Mende said. Among the dead are a doctor and four nurses. The affected areas were under quarantine. The Department of Health said on Monday that it had no plans to extend travel restrictions to the Congo. The travel bans announced last week remained in place. The government banned the entry of non-South Africans from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. South African citizens were asked to delay trips to the affected countries unless they were “absolutely essential.”
Department spokesman Joe Maila said any decision to extend restrictions to the Congo would only be made after careful deliberation. “We continue to follow all international developments … and are on high alert,” he said. The virus has killed at least 1,400 people across West Africa. The World Health Organization has said it will need at least $430m to bring the worst outbreak under control. The government has downplayed the risk of Ebola entering SA, as it can only be contracted through direct contact with infected tissue. Additional screening of “persons of risk” have been put in place at airports. Eleven hospitals in SA have been designated to deal with patients infected with the disease. About 1,300 South African National Defense Force (SANDF) members are deployed in the east of the Congo with the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force. SANDF spokesman Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga said on Monday that reports had not pointed to a risk to personnel. “The situation doesn’t warrant the withdrawal of SANDF or any other foreign personnel deployed under the UN,” he said. However, an extraction plan and transport remained in place to facilitate a rapid evacuation of personnel. EP
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