On Monday, the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, said that five people, including a 15-year-old girl, have died due to a new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
UNICEF said in a statement, “Four additional people who contracted the virus — all contacts of the deceased and including the child of one of the fatal cases — are being treated in an isolation unit at the Wangata Hospital in Mbandaka.”
“The deaths occurred between the 18th and 30th of May but they were only confirmed as Ebola-related yesterday,” it added.
Earlier, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that six cases had been reported in Mbandaka, the DRC’s northwest Equateur province.
The new outbreak is the nation’s 11th Ebola outbreak, which is highly contagious and passes through bodily fluids, with a fatality rate of 25% to 90%, depending on the outbreak.
Dr. Tedros tweeted, “A new #Ebola outbreak detected in western #DRC, near Mbandaka, Équateur province. @MinSanteRDC has identified 6 cases, of which 4 people have died.”
“The country is also in final phase of battling Ebola in eastern DRC, #COVID19 & the world’s largest measles outbreak,” he added.
The DRC has been struggling to combat an Ebola outbreak that started in 2018 in the eastern part of the country. The WHO reported more than 3,400 cases, with over 2,240 deaths.
Health officials said no new cases were reported in the past 21 days in that outbreak. This suggests that the outbreak may be under control because Ebola has an incubation period of 21 days; however, the WHO waits for two full incubation periods (42 days) to be sure before declaring that an outbreak has ended.
“The announcement comes as a long, difficult and complex Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak,” the WHO said in a statement.
As far as coronavirus is concerned, the central African nation has reported 3,195 confirmed cases, with 72 deaths, according to worldometers.info.
In the DRC, the worst epidemic has been measles so far, which has infected nearly 370,000 and killed 6,779 people since 2019.
The WHO said new Ebola outbreaks can be expected in the DRC. The largest Ebola epidemic was in 2014-2016 in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, with officials reporting more than 28,000 confirmed cases and 11,000 deaths.