So far two cases have been confirmed, at least 18 others are suspected and three people have died in north-eastern Bas-Uele province. He offered no new details about the index case, a 39-year-old man who died en route to a hospital, but noted that a person caring for the man in addition to the motorcycle driver transporting the man have both perished from the disease.
World Health Organization announced this week that among the 20 suspected cases, two now have tested positive for the virus. It is the country's ninth outbreak-more than any other nation-since Ebola was first detected there in 1976 and named after the River Ebola that flows through the nation's forested lowlands.
"We can not underestimate the logistical and practical challenges associated with this response at a very remote part of the country", Salama said on the call. "As of now, we do not know the full extent of the outbreak, and as we deploy teams over the next few weeks we'll begin to understand more and more exactly what we are dealing with, and we'll be able to update you further".
The risk from the outbreak is "high at the national level", the WHO said, because the disease was so severe and was spreading in a remote area in northeastern Congo with "suboptimal surveillance" and limited access to health care.
Meanwhile, the first Ebola treatment centre has been established in the Likati General Hospital.
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There is no licenced vaccine for the Ebola virus, but a promising candidate vaccine could be deployed within a matter of days if the DR Congo government gives its approval, the World Health Organization said. The most recent was in 2014, around the time more than 11,000 people died and some 28,000 cases were reported in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
"We've also learned never, ever to underestimate the Ebola virus disease".
This week, the organization said that it is now making preparations to use the controversial vaccine, though it has not yet made a firm decision on whether to deploy it.
He also said there are only 20 kilometres of paved roads in that area and virtually no functional telecommunications.
Salama said an experimental vaccine against Ebola, dubbed rVSV-ZEBOV, could be used in this outbreak, if local authorities agree to allow it.
Members of WHO-led "surge team" reached the area Wednesday, he said.