The Democratic Republic of the Congo govt on Monday announced the second outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the western city of Mbandaka, in Équateur province. The announcement comes as a long, difficult and complex Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak.
Health Minister Eteni Longondo said four people who died in Mbandaka were confirmed as positive cases following testing at the national biomedical laboratory in the capital Kinshasa.
"We have a new Ebola epidemic in Mbandaka," Longondo told reporters. "We are going to very quickly send them the vaccine and medicine."
Three of these six cases have been confirmed with laboratory testing. It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase.
The outbreak was confirmed by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who tweeted: "This outbreak is a reminder that Covid-19 is not the only health threat people face."
“Although much of our attention is on the pandemic, WHO is continuing to monitor and respond to many other health emergencies.”
Congo has been struggling to put an end to a nearly two-year-old Ebola outbreak near its eastern borders with Rwanda and Uganda, which has killed more than 2,200 people, the world's second-deadliest outbreak of the disease on record.
This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976. The city of Mbandaka and its surrounding area were the site of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which took place from May to July 2018.
“It’s happening at a challenging time, but WHO has worked over the last two years with health authorities, Africa CDC and other partners to strengthen national capacity to respond to outbreaks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “To reinforce local leadership, WHO plans to send a team to support scaling up the response. Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighbouring countries, we must act quickly.”
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 10th outbreak of Ebola, in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces, is in its final stages. On 14 May 2020, the Ministry of Health began the 42-day countdown to the declaration of the end of that outbreak.
New outbreaks of Ebola are expected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo given the existence of the virus in an animal reservoir in many parts of the country.