The Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing a new Ebola outbreak as the previous one enters its final phase, the World Health Organization has revealed. The new outbreak comes amid multiple other outbreaks in the region, including ones involving COVID-19 and the measles. A total of six new Ebola cases have been identified; four of those patients have died.
The outbreak was announced by the DRC’s government on Monday, June 1; six cases were identified in the nation’s Équateur province in the Wangata health zone, according to WHO. This outbreak differs from the one that has been in the news — that one, described as “long, difficult, and complex” — has finally entered its final phase.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is also facing outbreaks involving measles and the novel coronavirus, further straining the nation. WHO says that four of the six identified patients have died and that it is expected that more cases will appear as testing and surveillance for the disease increases.
This marks the 11th Ebola outbreak in the DRC since 1976. Mbandaka, the city where the cases were identified, was also the location of the DRC’s 9th outbreak back in summer 2018. The World Health Organization says that it is in the city working with local officials who are dealing with the outbreak.
Three of the cases were confirmed in the national laboratory and officials are launching efforts to trace contacts of the patients. As well, WHO says that supplies are being sent to the region and another 25 people will arrive in the city on Tuesday. The other Ebola outbreak is located in the Ituris and North/South Kivu provinces. A 42-day countdown to declaring this outbreak over was started on May 14, 2020.
In a statement, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said:
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. 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.