2nd outbreak of Ebola is reported in Congo, WHO says

Cheryl Sanders
June 2, 2020

Health Minister Eteni Longondo said four people who died were confirmed as positive cases following tests.

This marks the second time Ebola has hit Equateur province in as many years: A 2018 outbreak there killed 33 people before the disease was brought under control in a matter of months. "They started the response at the local level yesterday (Sunday)", Longondo said.

The WHO also extended its Public Health Emergency of International Concern designation for the epidemic, which has mainly affected the North Kivu province.

Scientists believe that the swift use of a new vaccine helped to end the outbreak quickly.

In April, the eastern outbreak was just three days away from being declared over when a new case was reported, pushing the date back. In order to declare an area Ebola-free, there must be no new cases for 42 days.

But efforts to wipe it out have been hindered by violent civil war and assaults on health workers in volatile regions controlled by militia.

"The announcement comes as a long, hard and complex Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world's largest measles outbreak", WHO said in a statement. That outbreak left more than 2,240 people dead. Prioritising the contacts of people diagnosed with Ebola was highly effective in halting the severe hemorrhagic fever, which attacks multiple bodily organs and can cause uncontrollable internal bleeding.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

Under the measures, travel is banned between Kinshasa and the rest of the country.

UNICEF, through its office in Mbandaka, is on the ground to support the health authorities with the equipment (chlorine sprayers, hand-washing kits, gloves, masks, personal protective equipment) necessary to disinfect the homes of the deceased and confirmed cases. Mbandaka is 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Kinshasa, but the two cities are connected by the Congo river, with a trip down it taking about a week.

This is the 11 Ebola outbreak in the DRC since 1976.

"I have devoted all my life and all my career to fighting Ebola", Muyembe has said.

The resurfacing of Ebola in Équateur comes just as DRC was approaching the end of the current outbreak in the eastern part of the country, which has killed 2,134 people and infected 3,317.

Other reports by iNewsToday