Ebola: Epidemic not over in DRC

Ebola health workers in Congo
Ebola health workers in Congo

The Ebola outbreak ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo appears far from over as new confirmed cases and deaths from the disease are still being reported in the conflict-ridden country.

Latest figures from the World Health Organisation website on Monday shows that 3,428 cases (3,305 confirmed and 123 probable), including 2246 deaths, have been recorded since the disease was first reported in August 2018.

There are 1157 survivors, with some patients still under care.

The country has been battling the outbreak of the disease since August, but the new coronavirus outbreak in China has pushed news on the disease off the headlines.

The World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, at a press briefing on coronavirus said the world cannot yet look away from the Ebola outbreak in DRC, though cases as already on the decline.

“I used the opportunity to stress that WHO is responding to 216 emergencies at the moment and share updates on the Ebola outbreak in DRC: since the start of February, there have been three cases. It’s too soon to celebrate, but we must use the momentum to finish off this outbreak,” he said.

Progress

Although a vaccine was approved by the WHO last year to stem the tide of the outbreak, reports from the health agency on Monday show that progress is being made in combating the disease in the conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The latest number of reported cases stands at 3,429, including 2,251 deaths — a fatality rate of 66 per cent.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said the situation in the country is very different now from what it was a few months ago, VOA reported.

Ms Moeti said the number of cases per day is much reduced than was obtainable weeks ago, especially when the agency has to stop essential interventions in the hotspots in the DRC.

“What I can say with a great deal of hope and optimism is that … we are seeing, for example, in a week something like five cases, said Mr Moeti.

The Ebola outbreak has been going on since August 2018. This is the 10th to hit the DRC since 1976, and the second-largest ever recorded, after the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

By the time the epidemic ended in 2016, the virus had infected nearly 30,000 people and killed more than 11,000 in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.


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