WHO confirms that a new Ebola outbreak has been detected in Congo

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The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has announced today that a new outbreak of Ebola virus is occurring in the Wangata Health Zone, Mbandaka, in Équateur province. The announcement comes in its final step as a long, complicated and complex Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, while the country is also battling COVID-19 and the world’s largest outbreak of measles.

Latest information from the Ministry of Health is that six Ebola cases have been identified in Wangata so far, four of which have died and two are alive and under care. Laboratory testing has confirmed 3 of these six cases. When screening efforts increasing, it is possible that more people will be diagnosed with the disease.

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

This is the eleventh Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the virus was first identified in the world in 1976. The city of Mbandaka and its nearby area was the location of the 9th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 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 neighboring countries, we must act quickly.”

WHO is already on the ground in Mbandaka as part of capacity building during the 2018 outbreak, supporting the response to this outbreak. The team assisted sample selection and processing, and checked for clarification at the national laboratory. Data tracking is continuing. Research is continuing to send supplementary supplies from North Kivu and Kinshasa to assist the government-led response. Tomorrow we expect another 25 people to arrive in Mbandaka. In spite of these crises, the WHO is still working to ensure that critical health services are delivered to populations.

The 10th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, is in its final stages. The Ministry of Health began the 42-day countdown to the conclusion of the outbreak declaration on 14 May 2020.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, new outbreaks of Ebola are predicted, given the presence of the virus in an animal reservoir in several parts of the world.

Source: Press release from who.int

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