Aug 24, 2014 2:34 PM by Associated Press
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) - Two Ebola deaths have been confirmed in Congo, the health minister of the Central African country said Sunday.
Felix Kabange Numbi said that two of eight samples from the northwest Equateur province came back positive for the deadly disease.
Numbi said Congolese officials believe Ebola had killed 13 people in the region, including five health workers. He said 11 people were sick and in isolation and that 80 contacts were being traced.
Congo has been hit by Ebola outbreaks seven times before, but the two deaths are the first ones in recent times, Numbi said.
However, he said the infections were of a different strain than those in the outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 1,400 people.
The samples were from the region where the World Health Organization said an outbreak of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis has killed 70 people in recent weeks, he said.
The WHO said last week those deaths were not Ebola-related.
A total of 2,615 Ebola infections and 1,427 deaths have been recorded in the outbreak now hitting West Africa, according to figures released Friday by the WHO. Sierra Leone has been hard-hit, with at least 910 cases and 392 deaths. Other affected countries include Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.