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Ebola vaccinations underway in new DR Congo outbreak

Six people have died of the much-feared haemorrhagic virus since 1 June, when the first cases came to light in Mbandaka, capital of Equateur province.

The Ebola vaccine being administered to a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Picture: Twitter/@WHOAFRO

Kinshasa - Health workers in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo have begun administering vaccinations after the country's 11th known outbreak of Ebola erupted last week, the authorities said Monday.

Six people have died of the much-feared haemorrhagic virus since 1 June, when the first cases came to light in Mbandaka, capital of Equateur province.

The outbreak coincides with a waning epidemic in the east of the country where 2,280 have died since 1 August 2018.

"Vaccination began in Mbandaka on Friday, with the help of our partners. We have vaccinated as a priority medical personnel, people who have had direct contacts with confirmed cases and second-tier contacts," Health Minister Eteni Longondo told AFP from Mbandaka.

"We had 1,500 doses, we have ordered 8,000 more and we may place an additional order, because there is huge demand from people in Mbandaka who want to get vaccinated," he said.

Eteni said the six deaths were out of 12 cases that had been recorded in Mbandaka as of Sunday.

Of these 12, nine cases had been confirmed by laboratory testing and three were listed as probable.

Equateur province was struck by an Ebola outbreak between May and July 2018 that claimed 33 lives.

More than 300,000 people have already been immunised in the eastern outbreak, using two novel vaccines that were rushed into service to help stem the spread.

Watchdogs hope to officially declare that outbreak over on 25 June - to do this, 42 days must elapse without any new cases.