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Ebola: Congo declares new epidemic

June 1, 2020

Following four deaths in western Congo, 1,000km from the ongoing outbreak, authorities have reported a new Ebola epidemic. "COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face," WHO chief Tedros said.

Ebola Virus
Image: picture-alliance/Everett Collection

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared a new Ebola epidemic Monday in the western city of Mbandaka, more than 1,000km (620 miles) away from an ongoing outbreak in the east.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo said four people who died were confirmed as positive cases following tests. "We are going to very quickly send the vaccine and medicine [to Mbandaka]," Longondo told reporters.

"A new #Ebola outbreak detected in western #DRC, near Mbandaka, Équateur province. @MinSanteRDC has identified 6 cases, of which 4 people have died," World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter.

"This outbreak is a reminder that #COVID19 is not the only health threat people face," he added.

DRC's 11th outbreak

The DRC has been struggling to put an end to a nearly two-year-old Ebola outbreak near its eastern borders with Rwanda and Uganda which has left more than 2,200 people dead. The current epidemic has been the second-deadliest outbreak of the disease on record.

Authorities were hoping to declare an end to the current outbreak in April with cases rapidly receding, but a flare-up in the east put that on hold. This will be the DRC's 11th outbreak since 1976.

Read more: Coronavirus — The lessons to learn from Ebola

The Equateur province has already experienced high Ebola rates during previous outbreaks, for example in 2018 when 33 people died.

"This is a province that has already experienced the disease. They know how to respond. They started the response at the local level on Sunday," Longondo said.

Fighting throughout the African country and mistrust of medical workers have impeded attempts to curb outbreaks in the past.

ed/rc (AFP, dpa)

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