A new case of Ebola has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a raising new concerns about public safety as the world combats the coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation said the new case was confirmed in Beni, a town at the heart of the epidemic in eastern DRC.
According to the report, the patient died on Thursday morning in a hospital after showing symptoms several days earlier.
The confirmation of the new case is a setback in the DRC’s battle against the disease that has killed about 2,264 of out of 3,453 people infected, since the outbreak began in eastern North Kivu province in August 2018.
The announcement on Friday came just days before the country’s largest-ever outbreak was expected to be declared over.
Apart from the Ebola outbreak, the DRC is currently battling the COVID-19 as well as measles and cholera which has killed thousands of children.
As for the COVID-19, the country has recorded 215 cases, 20 deaths and 13 have recovered so far.
As for the Ebola outbreak, the country had hoped to declare the epidemic over on Sunday after 52 days of not reporting a case of the disease.
WHO had declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern in July 2019, after the highly contagious virus threatened to spread to the large city of Goma and neighbouring countries.
After the last patient was discharged in February, WHO had set to declare the outbreak over on April 12 – the date marking double the disease’s 21-day incubation period since the departure of the last patient – if no other cases emerge.
Until Friday, no new cases had been registered since February 17.
“Preliminary information shows that the new patient is a 26-year-old man in Beni territory,” the multisectoral committee for the response to the epidemic said in a statement.
“Our teams, in collaboration with the WHO, are already on the ground to deepen the investigations and implement public health actions,” it added.
WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said in a tweet that after 52 days without a case, surveillance and response teams on the ground have confirmed a new case.
He said the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC met on Friday by teleconference to discuss whether the outbreak still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
However, with the new case, the outbreak will not be declared over as previously anticipated.
“We have been preparing for and expecting more cases.
“Unfortunately, this means the government of DRC will not be able to declare an end to the Ebola outbreak on Monday, as hoped. But WHO remains on the ground and committed as ever to working with the government, affected communities and our partners to end the outbreak,” he said.
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