Ebola hits DRC

Two people have reportedly died in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the virus.

Patients suffering from Ebola sit at the MSF-run Elwa hospital in Monrovia, on 21 August, 2014. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - A fifth African country has confirmed its first cases of Ebola.

Two people have reportedly died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from the killer virus.

DRC Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said the outbreak was a different strain of the virus from the West African one.

There have been six outbreaks of Ebola in DRC since the disease was discovered there in 1976, with a total of more than 760 deaths.

Despite intense efforts to try and contain the outbreak to West Africa, the epicenter of the epidemic, the disease continues to spread.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says one of its health experts had been infected while working in Sierra Leone.

The hemorrhagic fever has killed at least 1,427 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and neighbouring Guinea, the deadliest outbreak of the disease to date.

The disease also has a toehold in Nigeria, where it has killed five people.

The head of Stellenbosch University's medical virology division says there's no cause for concern over Ebola as the Nigerian soccer team heads to South Africa.

Nigeria is one of several countries affected by an outbreak of the virus.

The team is scheduled to play Bafana Bafana at Cape Town Stadium next month.

Professor Wolfgang Presler has stressed the virus isn't airborne.

"People are not infectious during incubation period, that's between themselves becoming infected before symptoms appear. Because it's such a dramatic and severe disease there's no chance that somebody who plays football can catch the virus."


A British medical worker was flown home from West Africa on Sunday after becoming the first Brit to be infected.

A specially adapted Royal Air Force cargo plane picked up the male healthcare worker in Sierra Leone on Sunday after British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond authorised his repatriation for treatment.

The Department of Health said the patient, whose identity has not been disclosed, was "not currently seriously unwell".

The man will be transported to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

The WHO has said that more than 225 health workers have fallen ill and nearly 130 have lost their lives to Ebola since the West African outbreak was detected in the jungles of southeast Guinea in March.

Britain's Deputy Chief Medical Officer John Watson said final approval for the evacuation was given by a team of physicians who had travelled to Freetown on the plane.

"We understand that this patient, during the course of the work that he was carrying out, was exposed about a week ago and became unwell two or three days ago," Watson told Sky News.

The Royal Free Hospital has Britain's only high-level isolation unit for treatment of infectious diseases, as well as a team of specially trained staff.

The WHO has sent in nearly 400 people from its own staff and partner organisations since the outbreak was detected in March.

It is the first outbreak of the disease in West Africa and the worst since it was discovered in 1976 in the jungles of Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

The WHO is due to release next week a draft strategy to combat the disease in West Africa. The UN agency has faced criticism that it moved too slowly to contain the outbreak.

The WHO has warned that a decision by many transport companies to suspend services to Ebola-hit countries was leading to shortages of basic goods and foodstuffs.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) airlifted more than 16 tons of medical equipment and emergency supplies to the Liberian capital Monrovia on Sunday.

Additional reporting by Reuters.