The death toll in an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rose to 26 on Monday after a person died in the northwest city of Mbandaka, the government said, as it began vaccinating first responders against the dreaded disease.

“A death was recorded (on Sunday), while two people who had been confirmed as ill with the Ebola virus were cured on Saturday,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga said.

The two cases occurred at Bikoro, a remote area where the outbreak began and then spread to Mbandaka — an event that has deeply worried health experts.

Since the outbreak was announced on May 8, there have been 49 cases, comprising 22 confirmed by laboratory tests, 21 probable and six suspected, Ilunga said. Three new cases had been reported on Saturday.

The authorities meanwhile launched a programme in Mbandaka to immunise front-line health workers with an experimental Ebola vaccine.

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