As Congo battles the Covid-19 pandemic, a new Ebola outbreak has resurfaced in the northwest, just as authorities were prepared to declare the end of Ebola in three eastern provinces.
The cases were confirmed in Mbandaka, a port city on River Congo on 31st May. By 8th June, there were 12 cases, nine of which had been confirmed and three considered probable. Eight people have since died, including a 15-year-old girl, in the region where another outbreak ended about two years ago.
Congo “is currently facing a Covid-19 epidemic affecting 11 provinces, working hard to end one long-burning (Ebola) epidemic affecting three provinces and confronting a new (Ebola) epidemic affecting one province,” said Ghislain Mukuna, the integrated health program manager of the US-based Catholic Relief Services in the country. “It is also acting to end a measles epidemic affecting all 26 provinces and a cholera epidemic affecting 10 provinces.”
He said in the east and in northwest Congo, the existing coordination structures and response teams fighting Ebola were also the same leading the fight against Covid-19.
“The number of outbreaks and health emergencies faced by these structures poses a great challenge,” said Mukuna.
Ebola is named after a river in Congo, where it was discovered in 1976. Key symptoms include fever, bleeding, weakness and abdominal pain. It is transmitted through contact with sick or dead people or animals.
The virus has killed nearly 2,300 people out of more than 3,400 infections since August 2018, when the latest outbreak began. The outbreak is considered the largest in the country and the second-largest in the world after the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa.
Picture: Teachers take part in a training program in Goma, Congo, on 5th June 2020, for the preventive measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19. As Congo battles the pandemic, a new Ebola outbreak has resurfaced in the northwest, as authorities prepared to declare the end of the main Ebola epidemic in three eastern provinces. (CNS photo/Carolina Meroni, courtesy AVSI).