DR Congo declares 14th Ebola outbreak over

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared the end of the Ebola outbreak that erupted less than three months ago in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province in the northwest.

A statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville and signed by the Communications Officer, Collins Boakye-Agyemang stated that the outbreak was the third outbreak in the province since 2018 and the country’s 14th overall.

“With greater experience in Ebola control, national emergency teams, with the support from World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, mounted a swift response soon after the outbreak was declared on 23 April, rolling out key counter measures including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, treatment and community engagement.

“Vaccination – a crucial protective measure – was launched just four days after the outbreak was declared.

“In all, there were four confirmed cases and one probable case – all of whom died. In the previous outbreak in Equateur Province that lasted from June to November 2020, there were 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths,” the statement read in part.

Read: D.R Congo Commences Ebola Vaccination, Says WHO

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti was said to have appreciated authorities for the robust national response which swiftly brought the outbreak to an end, effectively limiting transmission of the virus.

“Thanks to the robust response by the national authorities, this outbreak has been brought to an end swiftly with limited transmission of the virus. Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response.”

Speaking further, Dr Moeti said “Africa is seeing an increase in Ebola and other infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans impacting large urban areas. We need to be ever more vigilant to ensure we catch cases quickly. This outbreak response shows that by bolstering preparedness, disease surveillance and swift detection, we can stay a step ahead.”

It was also noted that the just ended outbreak saw a total of 2104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1307 frontline workers.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has now recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, six of which have occurred since 2018,” the statement further revealed.

“WHO supported the Democratic Republic of the Congo in implementing a strong national strategy developed early to guide response coordination; decentralizing operations to the lowest level to work closely with communities; basing the response on evidence; and regularly analysing the epidemiological risk to rapidly adjust the response.”

The statement clarified that although the outbreak in Mbandaka has been declared over, health authorities were still maintaining surveillance and ready to respond quickly to any flare-ups, as it is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following an outbreak.

“The disease, which affects humans and other primates, is severe and often fatal. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

“However, with the currently available effective treatment, patients have a significantly higher chance of survival if they are treated early and given supportive care.”

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