WHO: New Ebola outbreak detected in DR Congo

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The World Health Organization reported Monday that a new Ebola virus disease outbreak emerged in the Wangata health zone, Mbandaka, in Équateur province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The announcement came while another “long, difficult, and complex” Ebola outbreak is in its final phase at the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country also is fighting the world’s largest measles outbreak and COVID-19. 

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According to the Ministry of Health’s initial information, six Ebola cases were detected in Wangata, four of which already died, while two are alive and under treatment. Three of the cases have been confirmed with laboratory testing.

“This is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Although much of our attention is on the pandemic, WHO is continuing to monitor and respond to many other health emergencies.”

“This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976. The city of Mbandaka and its surrounding area were the site of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which took place from May to July 2018,” WHO said in its report.

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Also read: Ebola co-discoverer says 2019 nCoV more dangerous than ebola 

Ebola outbreak in Congo

“It’s happening at a challenging time, but WHO has worked over the last two years with health authorities, Africa CDC and other partners to strengthen national capacity to respond to outbreaks,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “To reinforce local leadership, WHO plans to send a team to support scaling up the response. Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighboring countries we must act quickly.”

WHO already sent its team to Mbandaka to assist in responding to the outbreak. The team would support the collection and testing of samples and reference to the national laboratory for confirmation. 

“Contact tracing is underway. Work is ongoing to send additional supplies from North Kivu and from Kinshasa to support the government-led response. A further 25 people are expected to arrive in Mbandaka tomorrow. WHO is also working to ensure that essential health services are provided to communities despite these emergency events,” WHO added.

Since its discovery in 1976, the majority of cases and outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease have occurred in Africa. The virus has a fatality rate of 53 percent at that time. 

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