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Congo faces ‘quadruple threat’ with second Ebola outbreak in northern province

By on June 2, 2020 0 135 Views

A second outbreak of Ebola has hit the Congo as it continues to battle the coronavirus and the world’s largest measles outbreak.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has yet to officially declare an end to Ebola after an epidemic of the disease broke out in August 2018, claiming the lives of at least 2,243 people.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Congolese authorities have identified six cases including four deaths of Ebola the north near Mbandaka.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said in a statement: “This is a reminder that Covid-19 is not the only health threat people face.”

Four other people are being held in isolation at a hospital in Mbandaka, Unicef said.

The victims died on May 18 but test results confirming Ebola only came back over the weekend, according to Congolese health minister Eteni Longondo.An Ebola survivor who was working as a nurse last year cares for a patient who was suspected to be suffering from Ebola at a treatment centre in Katwa (REUTERS)© Provided by Evening Standard An Ebola survivor who was working as a nurse last year cares for a patient who was suspected to be suffering from Ebola at a treatment centre in Katwa (REUTERS)

The WHO said it already had teams on the ground.

Health minister Eteni Longondo told reporters: “We have a new Ebola epidemic in Mbandaka. We are going to very quickly send them the vaccine and medicine.”

This announcement marks the eleventh time Ebola has hit the province since the virus was first discovered in Congo in 1976.

Two years ago an outbreak killed 33 people before the disease was brought under control in a matter of months.

The latest cases turned up in Wangata health zone near the port city of Mbandaka, which is home to 1.2 million people.

In the east health officials are still waiting to declare an official end to to the epidemic after nearly two years.

The last known patient there was released in mid-May but the country must go about another month without any new cases before a declaration can be made.

The Ebola virus causes a fever and it is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who suffers severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Covid-19 has already touched seven of Congo’s 25 provinces, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases and 72 deaths. However, like many African countries Congo has conducted extremely limited testing, and observers fear the true toll may be far higher.

While Ebola and Covid-19 have drawn far more international attention, measles has killed more Congolese than those diseases combined.

The WHO said there have been 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths since 2019.

“This quadruple threat could prove lethal for millions of children and their families,” said Anne-Marie Connor, national director in Congo for the aid organisation World Vision.

Evening Standard – April Roach

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