UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- A UN spokesman said on Thursday that 14 new Ebola cases had been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Wednesday, the largest increase in a single day since its outbreak in August 2018.
"Our humanitarian colleagues report that 14 new cases of Ebola were reported (Wednesday) in the northeast of the DRC, the largest one-day increase since the beginning of the outbreak on Aug. 1 last year," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General.
Nine of the new cases were found near Butembo, a city of 1 million people, the spokesman said. The latest tally of confirmed and probable cases of Ebola is at 699 and that figure includes 433 victims who died.
"The DRC ministry of health, WHO and humanitarian partners have fully scaled up the response on the ground," Haq said. "A decline in case incidence had recently been reported in Beni, the former epicenter of the outbreak."
The spokesman said that the decline is an indication of how effective the response can be despite multiple challenges, including access, contact tracing, and delayed case detection.
The WHO said on its website that an "investigational vaccine" called rVSV-ZEBOV has shown to be "safe and protective against the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus," although it has not yet been officially approved.
"Although several studies have shown that the vaccine is safe and protective against the Ebola virus, more scientific research is needed before the vaccine can be licensed," the WHO said. "The vaccine is therefore being used on compassionate basis, to protect persons at highest risk of the Ebola outbreak."
The UN agencies and humanitarian partners track down people who have had close contact with confirmed victims and administer the vaccine to them, the WHO said.