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Spaniards in Ebola zone 'in good health'
THREE Spanish missionaries based in the Ebola 'danger zone' in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been contacted and are said to be in good health, according to Spain's foreign office.
They belong to the order of Las Hijas de la Caridad ('The Daughters of Charity'), where they work as doctors, and are currently based in Mbandaka – right on the Equator in the province of Equateur and close to the larger city of Bikoro.
A total of 32 cases of what is believed to be Ebola have been detected in Bikoro, according to a spokeswoman from Pontificate Missionary Works (OMP).
At present, 149 Spaniards are based in the DRC, of whom 37 work for various international organisations and 112 are missionaries carrying out charity work, but only three are in the area known to be affected by the possible new outbreak of Ebola.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is preparing for the 'worst-case scenario', and teams from UNICEF, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders have travelled to Bikoro, around 280 kilometres from the capital, Kinshasa.
Spain's and the UK's foreign offices have, for some time, advised against all but essential travel to parts of the DRC, although they have now upped the warning.
In addition to the possible Ebola outbreak, the country has been immersed in a deep political crisis since the end of president Joseph Kabila's constitutional mandate on December 19, 2016, with 'violent incidents throughout the whole country' a risk that 'cannot be ruled out'.
The whole of the African nation suffers from a 'precarious security situation' due to 'permanent armed conflict' which has led to thousands of deaths and forced around a million inhabitants out of their homes, turning them into refugees.
In addition, the country formerly known as the Belgian Congo is gripped by 'the worst cholera epidemic since 1994', affecting nearly the entire nation and having so far claimed 1,000 lives.
Spaniards and Brits are advised by their respective foreign offices that, if they really must travel to the DRC, they should report to their embassies in Kinshasa upon arrival to register their presence.
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