DR Congo declares end to Ebola in the east

Grant Boone
June 28, 2020

"The health ministry intends to capitalise on the lessons learned and the success factors from this long epidemic to assure the most effective response possible in Mbandaka", Health Minister Eteni Longondo told reporters.

"It wasn't easy and at times it seemed like mission impossible", said Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of World Health Organization Africa, during a virtual press conference.

Despite successfully deploying two separate vaccines, the outbreak claimed more than 2,200 lives, with the response continually hampered by community mistrust and violence in the country's volatile northeastern provinces.

That outbreak, declared on June 1, has seen up to 24 cases so far, including 13 deaths.

There were 3,463 cases confirmed and probable cases recorded over the course of the outbreak in eastern Congo, including 2,277 deaths, Longondo said. "A vaccine has been licensed, and effective treatments identified", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement Thursday.

The eastern outbreak was just three days from reaching the finishing line in April when a new case was reported.

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"We should celebrate this moment, but we must resist complacency".

"That's why WHO is committed to continuing to work with the people and government of DRC to strengthen its health system and support it on the road towards universal health coverage", Mr Ghebreyesus said.

It can also spread through contact with body fluids of infected people, or of those who have succumbed to the virus.

However, the Central African nation still faces major health challenges - a deadly measles outbreak, the rising threat of COVID-19 and a new Ebola outbreak that's emerged in the northwest.

It is now 42 days - double the virus's three-week incubation period - since the last patient was discharged from an Ebola treatment centre, signalling the end of an epidemic that has infected nearly 3,700 people. A health worker waits to handle an unconfirmed case of Ebola at a newly built treatment centre in Bunia, 200 km north of Beni, on 7 November 2018.

The ADF has been blamed for killing about 500 people since a year ago in retaliation for an army crackdown on their bases in the forests around the Beni region.

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