DR Congo confirms new case of Ebola in Mbandaka

NEWS DIGEST – Health Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have confirmed a new case of Ebola virus in the Mbandaka area of the North-Western Equateur Province.

The patient, a 31-year-old man, began experiencing symptoms on the 5th of April and after a week of ineffective care at home, sought treatment at a local health facility. The patient was admitted to an Ebola treatment centre for intensive care on the 21st of April but died later that day.

This is the sixth outbreak of Ebola virus in Dr Congo since 2018. It would also be the fourteenth time DR Congo has suffered an outbreak of Ebola virus since 1976.

The most recent outbreak in the Equateur Province was in 2020. According to the World Health Organization, investigations are ongoing to identify the source of the outbreak.

“Time is not on our side,” said Dr Matshido Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa.

“The disease has had a two-week headstart and we are now playing catch-up. The positive news is that health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have more experience than anyone else in the world at controlling Ebola outbreaks quickly,” she said.

WHO experts in the country are working with local health authorities to ramp up vaccination campaigns and stashes of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine has already been made available in some cities.

“Vaccines will be sent to Mbandaka and administered through ‘ring vaccination strategy’—where contacts and contacts of contacts are vaccinated to curb the spread of the virus and protect lives,” Dr Moeti said.

The new vaccination programme will also include those previously vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak. The burial of the deceased was modified to eliminate the risk of contagious fluids infecting the attendees.

“Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the impact of the disease,” she added.

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