DR Congo announces fresh Ebola outbreak

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. The viruses that cause EVD are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. People can get EVD through direct contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate) or a sick or dead person infected with Ebola virus.

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced today that a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease is occurring in Wangata health zone, Mbandaka, in Équateur province. The announcement comes as a long, difficult and complex Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak.

The appearance of the deadly disease on the other side of the vast country comes as an added blow as the DRC attempts to also battle the corona virus pandemic.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo said on Monday “four people have already died” from Ebola in a district of the northwestern city of Mbandaka.

“The National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) has confirmed to me that samples from Mbandaka tested positive for Ebola,” Longondo told a news conference.

“We will send them the vaccine and medicine very quickly,” the minister said, adding that he planned to visit the site of the outbreak at the end of the week.

The capital of Equateur Province, Mbandaka is a transport hub on the Congo River with a population of more than a million.

“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.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  approved the Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV (tradename “Ervebo”) for the prevention of EVD. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine was found to be safe and protective against only the Zaire ebolavirus species of ebolavirus.

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