Nigeria acts on WHO Ebola alert in Congo

"An Ebola outbreak in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has killed at least one person", Salama said.

The worst Ebola outbreak was in 2014, when the virus infected more than 28,000 and killed over 11,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The Ebola virus disease is a viral hemorrhagic fever that was first discovered in Africa in the 1970s.

The minister also encouraged members of the public to observe a high level of personal hygiene including regular hand washing and to also report all cases of fever to the nearest health facility.

The federal government in response to the WHO announcement directed health officials through the ministry of Health has told officials at the ports to step up inspection activities and to report any sick person or suspects. "Our country is full of people well-trained in this matter and our health professionals also helped contain similar epidemics in other countries", it added. The province is thousands of kilometers northeast of capital, Kinshasa.

Dr Allarangar Yokouide, WHO's representative in Congo, said the first teams of specialists should arrive in the affected area of Likati on Saturday.

The nation has had seven known Ebola outbreaks in the past, including one in 2014 with several dozen confirmed cases.

Experts say to prevent the spread of the virus they must quickly track down, test, isolate and treat suspected cases.

The outbreak could test a recently developed experimental Ebola vaccine that World Health Organization says could be used in emergencies.

The WHO's Congo spokesman, Eugene Kabambi, said, "It is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky". The U.S. Agency for International Development has said an estimated 70 percent of the population has little or no access to health care. Three of the patients died and six are hospitalized, according to WHO.

World Health Organization declared Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the three countries that had been most effected by the epidemic - to be free of Ebola in 2016.

"Gavi's work with Merck means there are 300,000 doses of Ebola vaccine available if needed to stop this outbreak becoming a pandemic", Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley said.

  • Joanne Flowers