Seven fifty miles away from the epicenter of Ebola in Africa, a new strain of outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has flared up, unclear how it emerged during the lockdown. This is the country’s 11th outbreak since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976
The deadly virus breaks out at a time when the country is already battling the coronavirus and the largest measles epidemic in the world with 350,000 people infected and 6500 death, New York Times reports. Five people have died, with a total of nine cases reported so far, according to media reports.
The cases were confirmed to be Ebola only on May 31st, and the deaths have occurred between May 18 to May 31st, according to Unicef. “Four additional people who contracted the virus – all contacts of the deceased and including the child of one of the fatal cases – are being treated in an isolation unit at the Wangata Hospital in Mbandaka,” Unicef told in a statement.
The new infection surfaced up on the western city of Mbandaka in Equateur province, 750 miles away from the nearly-subdued zone of the original outbreak in the eastern part. Congo has been restricting travel to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The WHO Director-General earlier tweeted about the outbreak on Monday, and told “the country is also in the final phase of battling Ebola in eastern DRC, #COVID19 & the world’s largest measles outbreak.”
The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the last stages of battling the largest outbreak of Ebola in the country’s eastern edge, which started in 2018, UNICEF notes. So far, 3,406 cases have been reported and 2,243 deaths according to WHO. There have not been any fresh cases in the 21 days, however, health authorities are still waiting to declare an official end until two incubation periods of 21-days are passed, CNN notes.
WHO Regional Director of Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti tweeted that the new outbreak albeit poses a challenge but WHO is ready to tackle it and assured: “With each experience, we respond faster & more effectively.”
Ebola is an extremely contagious and deadly virus that lives in bats and spreads through bodily fluids and has a mortality rate of 25-90% depending on the outbreak. The disease is characterized by initial fever, chills, diarrhea and headache, which in the later stages escalates to internal bleeding and blood vomit. DR Congo has documented 3,195 cases of coronavirus and 72 deaths.