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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

Ebola Virus: DRC Reports New Outbreak

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Health officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have reported a fresh Ebola outbreak in the country’s northwest. This news comes just weeks before they hoped to declare the end of another Ebola epidemic in the country’s east.

The fresh outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in the north comes as the DRC attempts to also battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo said four people have already died from Ebola at a district in the city of Mbandaka. He said the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) has confirmed that samples from Mbandaka tested positive for Ebola.

Furthermore, he stated that vaccination and medicine will be promptly sent to them. He also said he is currently making plans to visit the site of the outbreak at the end of the week.

Mbandaka is a transport hub on the Congo River with a population of more than a million located in the Equateur Province. The Equateur Province has previously been hit by an Ebola outbreak between May and July 2018. The outbreak left 33 people dead while 21 recovered from the disease.

The latest outbreak in DRC’s northwest is the 11th in the country since scientists first characterised the disease in 1976.

Related: Second Ebola Death Recorded in DRC’s Beni

The Ebola epidemic in the country’s east has killed 2,280 people since it emerged in North Kivu Province in August 2018. The outbreak from the North Kivu province later spread to the neighbouring Ituri province.

WHO ready to tackle new Ebola Outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern in July 2019. This was after the highly contagious virus threatened to spread to the large city of Goma and neighbouring countries.

Officials in the DRC had hoped to be able to proclaim the outbreak over on June 25. For this to happen, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days – double the incubation period.

In April, the eastern outbreak was just three days away from being declared over when a new case was reported.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka poses a challenge. She however said it is a challenge that WHO is ready to tackle.

The DRC is also fighting an outbreak of the new coronavirus. It has so far recorded 3,195 infections – 2,896 in the capital, Kinshasa – and 72 deaths.

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