Ebola virus

  1. WHO names team to probe DR Congo sex abuse claims

    A girl receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse in Goma on August 7, 2019.
    Image caption: The Ebola outbreak mostly affected eastern DR Congo

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed two women leaders to head investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by aid workers during the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Congolese human rights advocate, Julienne Lusenge, and former Nigerien minister, Aïchatou Mindaoudou, will co-chair the commission.

    The commission will "swiftly establish the facts, identify and support survivors, ensure that any ongoing abuse has stopped, and hold perpetrators to account", according to a WHO statement.

    The UN health agency tweeted its full statement:

    View more on twitter

    A year-long investigation published last month by The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation indicated that aid workers who identified themselves as WHO staff sexually abused women during the Ebola outbreak in the country.

    Local women were allegedly plied with drinks, "ambushed" in hospitals, forced to have sex, and two became pregnant.

    The allegations cover the period between 2018 and March 2020.

  2. South Sudan's suspected Ebola cases 'test negative'

    Nichola Mandil

    BBC News, Juba

    Ebola virus

    The authorities in South Sudan have said the suspected cases of Ebola in the north-western region have tested negative.

    But samples were not collected from those who died from a yet to be established illness that sparked suspicions.

    They were buried before a medical team from the health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in the area.

    Last week, the health ministry received an alert from Raja county in Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, after three people died from an unknown disease in Timssa area, near Central African Republic (CAR).

    Three others were reported to be in “critical condition”.

    “The ministry of health would like to inform the general public that the samples tested negative of Ebola and other forms of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers," John Rumunu, director-general for health preventive services, told reporters in the capital, Juba.

    "There is no Ebola virus in South Sudan and there is no reason to panic,” he added.

    Dr Angelo Goup Thon, the acting director for emergency preparedness and response, said samples collected from critically ill patients that had returned a negative test result had been sent to Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) for toxicology analysis.

    Results are expected in two days.

  3. New DR Congo Ebola outbreak reaches 100 cases

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Health workers operate within an Ebola safety zone in the Health Center in Iyonda, near Mbandaka, on June 1, 2018.
    Image caption: Specialist health centres have been set up for Ebola patients - like this one from 2018

    The number of Ebola cases in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo has risen to 100, double the number it was five weeks ago, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    The first cases in the current outbreak were recorded in the capital of Equateur Province, Mbandaka.

    Ebola has now spread across the region.

    The WHO says it is struggling to cope as affected communities live in dense forests often hundreds of kilometres away from each other.

    This is the 11th recorded outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo.

  4. Video content

    Video caption: How Ebola prepared one doctor for Covid-19

    How Ebola prepared one doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo to treat coronavirus.

  5. WHO concern over DR Congo's new Ebola outbreak

    BBC World Service

    Health workers in PPE
    Image caption: Ebola can spread rapidly, through contact with even small amounts of bodily fluid of those infected

    The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is concerned about an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has become the largest ever in the country's north-west region.

    Fifty-six cases of Ebola have been recorded in the country's Equateur province since the latest outbreak was declared in June.

    A map of Democratic Republic of Congo

    The WHO's regional director, Matshidiso Moeti, says that some of the cases are in remote areas, which are difficult to access.

    She said lessons had been learned since a previous outbreak in the same province in 2018, and that more than 12,000 people had been vaccinated in the past six weeks.

    In June, the health authorities declared the end of the worst ever outbreak of the virus in the country, in three north-eastern provinces, which killed at estimated 2,287 people.

    Correction 17 July 2020: The figure of those who died in DR Congo's deadliest Ebola outbreak is 2,287, not 3,200 as earlier stated.

  6. Ebola outbreak spreads in the west of DRC

    Video content

    Video caption: The authorities are racing to contain Ebola outbreak in western DR Congo

    The authorities are racing to contain Ebola outbreak in western DR Congo.

  7. World's second largest Ebola outbreak over

    Rhoda Odhiambo

    BBC Africa Health, Nairobi

    People in PPE carrying a coffin
    Image caption: More than 2,200 people died in the Ebola outbreak in north-east DR Congo

    As we've been reporting, the 23-month long Ebola outbreak in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is now over.

    The World Health Organization's regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that the declaration was made possible with the collaboration of different arms of the government and the community.

    “This is a sign of hope that with solidarity and science epidemics can be controlled,” Dr Moeti told journalists in a virtual press conference.

    This was the second largest Ebola epidemic in history following the one in West Africa in 2014 and the first in active conflict zone.

    There were more than 420 attacks on health facilities by armed groups, which greatly hampered efforts to contain the spread of the disease.

    Security threats and misinformation were the main reasons why containing the outbreak in the north-east took so long.

    However, there’s also a new Ebola outbreak unfolding in Mbandaka, in the north-west of the country. This is the 11th outbreak in the country.

    So far, 24 people been infected with Ebola in that region and 13 people have died.

    A genetic analysis done on the strain of the virus circulating there was found to be different from the eastern strain.

  8. BreakingDR Congo declares Ebola over in north-east

    The Ebola outbreak in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which began in August 2018, is over, the WHO says in a tweet quoting a government minister.

    The centre of the outbreak was in Ituri province but there were also cases in North and South Kivu.

    View more on twitter

    There is however a fresh Ebola outbreak - the 11th in the country's history - in the west of the country.

    A case in the city of Mbandaka was announced on 1 June.

    For an outbreak to be declared over, there has to be a 42-day period since the last positive case was tested negative and discharged from hospital.

    In the 23-month outbreak in the north-east of the country, 3,463 people got the disease and 2,280 died.

    It was the second-most deadly Ebola outbreak in history, after the one which hit West Africa in 2014-16.

    Map of DR Congo
  9. New Ebola outbreak hits DR Congo

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Health workers carrying a coffin of someone who has died of Ebola in DR Congo - archive shot
    Image caption: More than 2,000 people have died from Ebola in DR Congo since August 2018

    New cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Health Minister Eteni Longondo said four people had died from the virus in the western city of Mbandaka, which has a population of about a million people.

    It is more than 1,000km (about 600 miles) from the centre of the current outbreak in the east of the country.

    DR Congo was poised to declare an end to the second largest Ebola epidemic on record in April, but a new chain of infections was found.

    More than 2,000 people have died from the disease since August 2018.

    The country is also struggling with coronavirus, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases.

    Mbandaka last recorded an outbreak of Ebola in 2018, when 33 people died in the city, and surrounding Equateur province.

  10. Backslide in vaccine rates puts Congelese youth at risk

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The UN children's agency, Unicef, says a reduction in vaccination rates in the Democratic Republic of Congo could erase the gains made from immunisation over the past two years.

    Unicef said vaccinations were already declining at the beginning of this year, and that the effects of coronavirus will make it worse.

    Health workers lack equipment to protect themselves or the children from Covid-19, and parents are afraid to bring them to vaccination centres.

    Hundreds of thousands of children have not received polio, measles, yellow fever and other vaccines.

    DR Congo might lose its polio-free status and there could be a resurgence of other deadly diseases.

    The country has been affected by decades of conflict and an Ebola epidemic.

    Unicef is worried that the effects of coronavirus could now push it over the edge.

  11. Manhunt for Ebola escapee in DR Congo

    Gaius Kowene

    BBC News, Kinshasa

    An Ebola health worker in DR Congo in protective gear
    Image caption: More than 2,200 have died in the country's worst-ever outbreak of the virus

    The World Health Organization (WHO) is worried that an Ebola patient who escaped from a health centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week is spreading the disease.

    Community workers are searching for the man and encouraging people not to hide him.

    Health workers wearing protective gear are standing by to take him back to the clinic in the eastern town of Beni.

    The fugitive is one of six people who tested positive at a time when DR Congo was preparing to declare the Ebola epidemic over earlier this month.

    More than 2,200 people have died since the outbreak began in 2018

  12. New deaths mean DRC still not free from Ebola

    Video content

    Video caption: Two people die of Ebola on the weekend the country was meant to be declared disease-free

    Health workers pelted with stones as two people die of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

  13. Hopes dashed in DR Congo as new Ebola case reported

    Anne Soy

    Senior Africa correspondent, BBC News

    Health workers in a treatment facility
    Image caption: More than 2,200 have died in the country's worst-ever outbreak of the virus

    Just two days before the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was to be declared over, the World Health Organization (WHO) says a new case has been confirmed.

    More than 3,400 people have been infected and 2,200 have died since the outbreak was announced in eastern DR Congo nearly two years ago.

    The authorities were preparing to declare the epidemic over on Sunday.

    But it now has to continue fighting Ebola as well as Covid-19 and measles.

    Read more:

  14. DR Congo battles five diseases

    Mary Harper

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A toddler undergoes a measles vaccination at a centre in western DR Congo on 3 March.
    Image caption: DR Congo needs to invest more in its health system, Unicef says

    The United Nations children’s agency (Unicef) says the Democratic Republic of Congo’s healthcare system needs urgent support or children's futures will be destroyed.

    The vast, conflict-ridden country is struggling to cope with five deadly diseases – malaria, measles, cholera, coronavirus and ebola.

    Last year, 16.5 million malaria cases were reported in DR Congo. It suffered the world’s worst measles epidemic, which killed thousands of children under five.

    Cholera is endemic – there were more than 30,000 cases last year.

    DR Congo is also trying to contain an outbreak of Ebola disease in the country's east, where dozens of militias operate and one million people have been displaced.

    And now there’s Covid-19. Although the number of cases is relatively low, there are fears of a catastrophe if it takes off.

    Unicef has called on the government of this mineral-rich country to allocate more resources to the failing health system.

    If not, it says, the lives of many Congolese children will be destroyed by preventable diseases.

  15. 'Fear and panic' as Sierra Leone awaits Covid-19

    Video content

    Video caption: Five years after the Ebola crisis, is the country prepared for coronavirus?

    Five years after the Ebola crisis, is the country prepared for coronavirus?

  16. Coronavirus: learning lessons from Ebola

    Video content

    Video caption: Dr Mosoko led Liberia's efforts to contain Ebola - now he's preparing for coronavirus
  17. Ebola vaccine licensed in four African nations

    DR Congo, Burundi, Ghana and Zambia can now distribute it

    A health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province, August 18, 2018
    Image caption: The Ervebo vaccine has 97.5% efficacyrate (file photo)

    Four African countries - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ghana and Zambia - have licensed and can now distribute an Ebola vaccine, which the World Heath Organization (WHO) has hailed as a "milestone".

    Preliminary study results indicate the Ervebo vaccine, manufactured by Merck, has a 97.5% efficacy rate. Data also suggests that vaccinating people who are already infected reduces their chances of dying.

    DR Congo is currently battling an Ebola outbreak, which has killed 2,249 people since August 2018.

    "The approval of the Ebola vaccine by these countries is another milestone in the fight against this unforgiving disease," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    "Africa has rallied to cement hard-fought progress to keep its people safe from Ebola," he added.