The country has six suspected cases of Ebola in the province of Ecuador, of which four have died. The WHO has confirmed the presence of the virus in three cases.
In the midst of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic , the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared this Monday, June 1, a new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka, in the province of Ecuador, in the northwest of the country , while it is still active, although already in its final phase, as indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO) , the epidemic of the disease originating in North Kivu, northeast of the Congo. “I can confirm that we have a new Ebola epidemic in Mbandaka,” the capital of Ecuador and an area already affected by Ebola in 2018, Congolese Health Minister Eteni Longondo said at a press conference in Kinshasa.
Samples of suspicious cases sent to the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB), in the Congolese capital, have tested positive, stressed the minister, reporting the new outbreak of the virus. “I will go there to provide technical assistance to the response team,” Longondo added, in statements collected by local news portal 7Sur7. For his part, the governor of Ecuador, Bobo Boloko, announced this weekend that tests carried out locally on the bodies of four people who died on May 18 in the Air Congo district confirmed that it could be Ebola. As of June 1, the Congolese authorities have identified six infected persons, of whom four have died,and the WHO has certified in a press release at least three of the six suspected cases have already been confirmed with laboratory tests.
“The new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka represents a challenge, but we are ready to face it,” said the regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, through her official account on the social network. Twitter For Moeti, the fact that WHO has worked with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its partners for years has served “to strengthen outbreak response capacity.” “With each experience,” the director stressed, “we respond faster and more effectively.”
“This is a reminder that covid-19 is not the only health threat that people face , “ said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general at the head of the UN body. “Although much of our attention is on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the WHO continues to monitor and respond to many other health emergencies.”
The Congolese province of Ecuador is more than 2,000 kilometers from the area where an epidemic of the disease is currently being fought , which broke out on August 1, 2018 , when the outbreak of that outbreak was declared just one week after it was proclaimed the end of another Ebola outbreak in the northwestern province. That outbreak in Ecuador – the ninth in the country – was declared on May 8, 2018 and, until its end, 54 infected people were counted , of which 33 died and 21 survived.
On May 16, the DRC confirmed that the last patient admitted with Ebola was discharged from the active outbreak in the northeast of the country and the authorities hope to be able to declare its official end in late June, provided that a period of 42 days without new cases , as health sources have informed Efe. The discharge of the last hospitalized occurred on May 14 in Beni, a Congolese city that has been one of the epicenters of the epidemic that was declared in August 2018.
However, health authorities should remain vigilant on the ground in the coming weeks in case new cases appear. If, after a period of 42 days from the discharge of this last patient, no new cases are detected, the DRC may declare the official end of the outbreak, according to WHO recommendations. As early as April 2019, when the country was just three days away from meeting the required deadline, a new positive forced to postpone the announcement and, since then, the outbreak left four dead. In total, this epidemic – the worst in the history of the DRC and the second most serious worldwide after the one that devastated West Africa between 2014 and 2016 – has left 3,462 infected, with 2,279 deaths, until last May 21, according to WHO data.
The Northeast outbreak that started in 2018 has affected three provinces – Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu – where their control has been undermined by the refusal of some communities to receive treatment and the great insecurity in the area, where dozens of armed groups operate. The Ebola virus, discovered precisely in the DRC in 1976, is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and body fluids of infected people or animals. The fever causing the disease can be accompanied by severe bleeding, so Ebola can achieve a 90% mortality rate.
Its first symptoms are sudden and high fever, severe weakness and muscle, head and throat pain, as well as vomiting. The worst known Ebola epidemic was declared in March 2014, with the first cases dating back to December 2013 in Guinea Conakry, from where it spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The WHO marked the end of that epidemic in January 2016, after registering 11,300 deaths and more than 28,500 cases, although the UN agency has admitted that these figures may be conservative.