The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has declared the end of the country’s 12th official Ebola outbreak;that infected 12 people in the eastern province of North Kivu and killed six of them.
According to aid group, Doctors without Borders (MSF), the outbreak was;contained using Merck’s Ebola vaccine, which was administered to more than 1,600 of the infected patients’ contacts and contacts of contacts.
The cases were;genetically linked to the 2018-20 Ebola epidemic that killed;more than 2,200 people; the second-highest toll recorded in the disease’s history. This outbreak is the country’s fourth in less than three years.
The latest flare-up emerged;on February 3 in the city of Butembo with the death of a woman whose husband had;contracted the virus in the previous outbreak. This outbreak led to the discovery that the virus can remain in certain body fluids, including semen,;of a patient who has recovered from the disease, even if they no longer have symptoms of severe illness.
In a statement, the DRC’s health minister, Jean-Jacques Mbungani, intimated;that he was;pleased the outbreak is over.
“I am pleased;to solemnly declare the end of the 12th epidemic of Ebola virus disease in North Kivu Province.
“Despite the security context and the COVID-19 pandemic, the rapidity and efficiency of the response put in place by the government and its partners made it possible to defeat this pandemic in less than three months.”
The DRC’s government has also urged people to stay vigilant and maintain contact with surveillance teams who will continue to work with local health authorities in North Kivu.
‘Prompt response, tenacity’ brought outbreak under control
“The response was;often hampered by;insecurity caused;by;armed groups and social unrest limited the movement of health workers.
“Huge credit must be given to the local health workers and the national authorities for their prompt response, tenacity, experience and hard work that brought this outbreak under control.
“Although the outbreak has ended, we must stay alert for possible resurgence and at the same time use the growing expertise on emergency response to address other health threats the country faces.”
Response to the outbreak was coordinated by the Provincial Department of Health in collaboration with WHO and partners. WHO revealed it had nearly 60 experts on the ground and as soon as the outbreak was declared, helped local workers to trace contacts, provide treatment, engage communities and vaccinate nearly 2000 people at high risk, including over 500 frontline workers.
The organization also notes that it will continue to work with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fight other public health problems including outbreaks of measles, cholera and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO is also assisting in efforts to eradicate an ongoing Ebola outbreak in Guinea, which began in February.