On 1 June, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that a new outbreak of the Ebola virus is now occurring in the Wangata health zone, Mbandaka, in the Équateur province.
According to the Ministry of Health, there have been six cases detected so far in Wangata – four of which have died and two are alive under care. In addition, three of the six cases have been confirmed with laboratory testing. WHO notes that it is likely more people will be found to be infected with the disease as surveillance activities increase.
This is the DRC’s 11th Ebola outbreak to date, and WHO notes that there have been 3,406 total cases, with 2,243 deaths and 1,166 survivors, since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018.
As of 31 May 2020, 3,195 Covid-19 cases and 72 deaths have been reported in the DRC, and since 2019, 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths have been reported in the country.
“This quadruple threat could prove lethal for millions of children and their families,” commented National Director in Congo for aid organisation World Vision Anne-Marie Connor.
“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.”
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, explained that WHO is already on the ground in Mbandaka responding to the outbreak and 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,” she said.
On 14 May, the Ministry of Health began the 42-day countdown to the declaration of the end of the DRC’s 10th outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces – it is now in its final stages. However, WHO notes that as the virus exists in an animal reservoir in many parts of the country, new outbreaks of Ebola are expected.