Sun. Jul 12th, 2020

New Ebola outbreak kills 4 in northwest DRC, 6 cases detected

By George Kalisa

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has June1 announced that four (4) people have succumbed to a new Ebola outbreak in in Wangata health zone, Mbandaka, in Équateur Province northwest Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This is the 11th Ebola outbreak occurring in DRC.

The new outbreak of Ebola virus disease that has been detected has already affected six people and three of the six have been confirmed through laboratory testing while the other three are probable, according to the Congolese Health Ministry. 

The Light Magazine has reliably learnt that WHO has already expanded its team supporting the response and vigilant surveillance is underway.  

“Initial information from the Ministry of Health is that six Ebola cases have so far been detected in Wangata, of which four have died and two are alive and under care. Three of these six cases have been confirmed with laboratory testing. It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase,” said WHO today.

“Contact tracing in Mbandaka, #DRC is underway. Work is ongoing to send additional supplies to support the government-led response to this new #Ebola outbreak. 25 more people expected to arrive tomorrow,” said WHO today through a tweet.

The new Ebola outbreak arrives on a health landscape already weakened by other outbreaks such as COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak, which the mineral rich African nation is still battling.

“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,” added Dr. Ghebreyesus

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.

“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 neighbouring countries we must act quickly,” she added.

WHO is already on the ground in Mbandaka supporting the response to this outbreak, as part of capacity built during the 2018 outbreak. The team supported 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.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 10th outbreak of Ebola, in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri Provinces, is in its final stages. On 14 May 2020, the Ministry of Health began the 42-day countdown to the declaration of the end of that outbreak.

New outbreaks of Ebola are expected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo given the existence of the virus in an animal reservoir in many parts of the country.

A glance of the recent DRC wars against outbreaks

As of 31 May 2020 DRC had recorded 3,195 novel Coronavirus cases 72 of them are deaths.   

While six (6) cases have been identified – three (3) confirmed and three (3) probable) in the ongoing Ebola outbreak 11th outbreak) declared today in Mbandaka, Équateur Province . Of those, 4 people died and 2 are alive, according to WHO.

The ongoing and 10th Ebola outbreak declared August1, 2018 severely affected 3,463 people in the Eastern DRC, especially in the North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces has affected. At least 3,317 confirmed and 146 probable. Of these, 2,280 people died and 1171 survived.  

Measles that was declared in 2019 affected 369 520 people 6,779 of whom were reported deadThe 9th outbreak declared in May8, 2018 and ended July24, 2018 Mbandaka, Équateur Province led to 54 cases. Some38 confirmed and 16 probable, 33 died while only 21 survived.

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