(Corrects number of deaths in 2014 outbreak in paragraph 6)
* Outbreak is Congo's eighth, most of any country
* Nine suspected cases, three deaths
* Authorities could respond with new vaccine
By Aaron Ross
KINSHASA, May 12 A person in Democratic Republic
of Congo who died of a haemorrhagic fever has tested positive
for the Ebola virus, signaling the start of a new outbreak, the
Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on
The case was confirmed from tests on nine people who came
down with a hemorrhagic fever in Bas-Uele province in the
northeast of the country on or after April 22, a ministry
statement said. Three people have died of fever.
"Our country must confront an outbreak of the Ebola virus
that constitutes a public health crisis of international
significance," the ministry said.
The WHO's Congo spokesman, Eugene Kabambi, said: "It is in a
very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We
always take this very seriously."
This latest Ebola outbreak is Congo's eighth, the most of
any country. The deadly hemorrhagic fever was first detected in
its dense tropical forests in 1976 and named after the nearby
That experience helped Congolese authorities respond
effectively to an outbreak in 2014 that killed 49 people. At the
same time, a separate outbreak killed more than 11,300 people
and infected some 28,600 as it swept through Guinea, Sierra
Leone and Liberia and caused alarm around the world.
In June last year, WHO declared Liberia free of active Ebola
virus transmission. Liberia was the last country still fighting
the world's worst outbreak of the disease.
"Our country is full of people well-trained in this matter
and our health professionals also helped contain similar
epidemics in other countries," the health ministry said in its
statement, adding that a response team would arrive in the area
The GAVI global vaccine alliance said on Friday some 300,000
emergency doses of an Ebola vaccine developed by Merck
could be available in case of a large-scale outbreak and that it
stood ready to support the Congo government's efforts to bring
the epidemic under control.
Under an agreement between GAVI and Merck, the developer of
an Ebola vaccine known as rVSV-ZEBOV, it said up to 300,000
doses of the shot would be available in case of an outbreak.
"The WHO and others will determine if and when deployment of
vaccine into this outbreak is warranted," it said in a
"There are 300,000 doses of Ebola vaccine available if
needed to stop this outbreak becoming a pandemic," said GAVI's
chief executive Seth Berkley. "The vaccine has shown high
efficacy in clinical trials and could play a vital role in
protecting the most vulnerable."
(Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London, Writing by
Matthew Mpoke Bigg,; Editing by Ralph Boulton)