Ebola – DRC+

Emergencies

Ebola – DRC+
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

No link between two ongoing Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – WHO
09 June 2020
Kinshasa/Brazzaville – New genetic sequence analysis by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) has found that the newly-identified Ebola virus circulating in the Equateur Province in western DRC is different from the one which has infected more than 3400 people in the eastern part of the country.

The DRC’s 11th Ebola outbreak was announced on 1 June 2020 after a cluster of cases was detected in the Mbandaka area of Equateur Province. The INRB genetic sequencing analysis also found that the virus in the latest outbreak is distinct from the previous one that hit the same region in 2018. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of the new outbreak, but it is likely that it originated from an animal source.

“We are not surprised to find no link between the current outbreak in Mbandaka and the two previous ones. The ongoing Ebola outbreaks are far apart and there is a flight ban in place due to COVID-19,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “National health authorities supported by WHO and partners have led an effective response against Ebola in eastern DRC despite huge challenges. We expect the same national expertise will be leveraged to overcome the current outbreak in Mbandaka.”

WHO has more than 20 staff on the ground supporting the Ministry of Health and partners responding to the outbreak in Mbandaka and the rural community of Bikoro. Additional staff will arrive this week to support the Ministry of Health in containing the outbreak. WHO has worked with the DRC Ministry of Health, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross Movement, UNICEF and other partners over the past two years to strengthen capacity to respond to Ebola outbreaks in the DRC.

“Ebola is endemic in animal reservoirs in the DRC, so it was expected that new cases would emerge,” said Dr Moeti. “While the new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka represents a challenge, it’s one we are ready to tackle. With each experience we respond faster and more effectively.”
Together with the Ministry of Health and partners, WHO has deployed vaccinators to the affected areas. More than 600 people have been vaccinated in Mbandaka and Wangata health zones…

Ebola Outbreak in DRC 96: 10 June 2020
[Excerpts]
Situation Update WHO Health Emergencies Programme Page 2
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, continues since its declaration on 1 June 2020 by the Ministry of Health. Since our last situation report on 2 June 2020 (External Situation report 95), four additional confirmed EVD cases and four deaths have been reported. As of 8 June 2020, a total of 12 EVD cases (9 confirmed and 3 probable), including eight deaths (case fatality ratio 66.7%), have been reported from six health areas in three health zones. Of the eight deaths, four occurred in the community. The case fatality ratio among confirmed cases is 55.6% (5 deaths/9 confirmed cases). Two health workers are among the confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak, 18.2% of all cases. Of the four confirmed cases still alive, two are under treatment in the Ebola treatment centre and two are in the community…

Conclusions
The new outbreak of EVD in Equateur Province comes in the context of a country already burdened with a long-standing EVD outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri, the COVID-19 outbreak (affecting mainly Kinshasa), an ongoing measles outbreak and a complex humanitarian crisis.

Mbandaka is a large town with a population of 1.2 million people with air and river links to Kinshasa and Boende, increasing the risk of localised spread. The risk of disruption to surveillance and routine public health activities as a result of the COVID-19 response will potentially harm the country’s ability to rapidly contain the re-emergence of EVD. Public health measures, particularly a strong and robust surveillance system, required to detect, isolate and treat new suspected cases as early as possible is required to break any new chains of transmission, along with full community engagement with response measures.

Investigations into the origin of the last cluster of cases in Beni Health Zone are ongoing. Maintaining a robust surveillance system in order to detect, isolate, test and treat new suspected cases as early as possible remains crucial. Continued coordination, communication among partners, authorities and affected communities along with EVD survivor advocacy remain essential in this response.

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