US warns of Ebola threat after Africa outbreaks

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The Biden administration on Tuesday said everything possible must be done to stop Ebola outbreaks in the African nations of Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo before they become large epidemics.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday (Feb 16) warned that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the world "cannot afford to turn the other way" after cases of Ebola were confirmed in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Five people have died of Ebola virus in Guinea - the first outbreak in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that left more than 11,300 people dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, in central Africa, has begun an Ebola vaccination drive after four cases, two of them fatal, surfaced just three months after the country's last outbreak of the disease.

"Ebola has again emerged, simultaneously, in both Central and West Africa," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement, vowing the US would work with affected governments and the World Health Organisation.

"The world cannot afford to turn the other way. We must do everything in our power to respond quickly, effectively," she added.

Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.

The 2013-2016 epidemic began in Guinea in the same southeastern region where the new cases have been found.

The virus, believed to reside in bats, was first identified in 1976 in Zaire, now DR Congo.

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