…WHO says Congo Ebola death toll nears 1,000, expected to spread***
No fewer than seven people, including five children, were killed on Friday after a boat carrying migrants sank off the Northwestern coast of Turkey, the Turkish coast guard said, adding that five others were being sought.
The boat, off the coast of the Ayvalik district in the Balikesir province, was carrying a total of 17 migrants, the coast guard said.
The coast guard stated that five of the migrants were rescued.
In a statement, the coast guard said search and rescue operations including four boats and two helicopters were being carried out to find the four migrants and one suspected migrant smuggler.
Turkey became one of the main launch points for migrants taking the sea route to European Union territory in 2015, many fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
The movement was drastically curtailed by a 2016 accord between Ankara and the EU.
In the meantime, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday said it feared continued “intense transmission’’ of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where deaths from a nine-month-old epidemic are 994 and expected to exceed 1,000 within hours.
Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said this at a news conference in Geneva.
The WHO plans to introduce an unlicensed new Ebola vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, in addition to a Merck vaccine already being used, as “another tool in the toolbox,’’ Ryan said.
But security incidents continue to plague the response to the outbreak, including a would-be assault on a facility on Thursday, slowing vaccination and daily checks on some 12,000 people potentially exposed to the virus, he said.
The Ebola outbreak in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the tenth outbreak in the country since 1976.
In the two provinces affected by this latest outbreak – North Kivu and Ituri – insecurity and armed conflicts made the response more difficult than in previous outbreaks.