Ebola virus

WHO concern over DR Congo's new Ebola outbreak

BBC World Service

Health workers in PPE
Getty Images
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
BBC

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.

Ebola outbreak spreads in the west of DRC

The authorities are racing to contain Ebola outbreak in western DR Congo
Amid jubilation over the end of the Ebola outbreak in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo there is rising concern over a separate outbreak unfolding in the west. 

There is a vaccine for Ebola and so far 12,000 people have been vaccinated in the western region of the country. 

Dr Michel Yao - the World Health Organization's head of Ebola - told Newsday what problems the authorities are facing in trying to contain the disease.

(Pic: Nurse prepares Ebola vaccine; Credit: Reuters)

World's second largest Ebola outbreak over

Rhoda Odhiambo

BBC Africa Health, Nairobi

People in PPE carrying a coffin
Reuters
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.

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
BBC

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
EPA
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.

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.

Manhunt for Ebola escapee in DR Congo

Gaius Kowene

BBC News, Kinshasa

An Ebola health worker in DR Congo in protective gear
Reuters
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

New deaths mean DRC still not free from Ebola

Two people die of Ebola on the weekend the country was meant to be declared disease-free
On Sunday, the Democratic Republic of Congo was supposed to declare itself free of Ebola. The outbreak of the virus has killed more than 2,000 people since August 2018 and Sunday would have marked the official point when no cases of the disease had been reported for 7 weeks. 

But then on Friday the news nobody wanted to hear - a man had died of Ebola in the city of Beni. He was an electrician. Then more bad news over the weekend as an 11-year-girl also died. 

Health workers who tried to cleanse the electrician's house were pelted with stones by his neighbours. Frank Abeille, the Ebola co-ordinator for UNICEF in DR Congo, says he understands their frustration.

(Photo: A United Nations peacekeeper has his shoes cleaned with a chlorine solution before leaving an Ebola treatment centre in Mangina, North Kivu province.  Credit: AFP)

Hopes dashed in DR Congo as new Ebola case reported

Anne Soy

Senior Africa correspondent, BBC News

Health workers in a treatment facility
Reuters
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.

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