WHO declares end of 11th Ebola outbreak in DRC

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The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday announced the end of the 11th Ebola outbreak in the Equateur province in the north-west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

WHO disclosed this in a statement issued from its Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo.

“Today marks the end of the 11th Ebola outbreak in DRC; nearly six months after the first cases were reported in Equateur Province.

“The outbreak took place in communities scattered across dense rain forests as well as crowded urban areas, creating logistical challenges.

“These were surmounted due to the leadership of the government and local communities, supported by the WHO and partners,’’ it said.

According to the statement, WHO congratulates responders and all those who tirelessly tracked cases and provided treatments

It also thanked those who engaged communities and vaccinated more than 40,000 people at high risk and a wide range of partners for their support.

“Vaccinators used innovative cold chain storage to keep the Ebola Vaccine at temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius.

“The ARKTEK freezers can keep vaccines at very low temperatures in the field for up to a week and enabled responders to vaccinate people in communities without electricity,’’ it added.

It quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying, “Overcoming one of the world’s most dangerous pathogens in remote and hard to access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together.

“The technology used to keep the Ebola vaccine at super-cold temperatures will be helpful when bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to Africa.

“Tackling Ebola in parallel with COVID-19 hasn’t been easy, but much of the expertise we’ve built in one disease is transferrable to another and underlines the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and building local capacity.”

The outbreak in western DRC, announced on 1 June, came as another Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the country was winding down, and finally declared over on 25 June.

The two outbreaks were geographically far apart. Genetic sequencing analysis found that they were unrelated.

By the end of the current 11th Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province there were 119 confirmed cases, 11 probable, 55 deaths and 75 people who had recovered.

Equateur Province was also the site of the country’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which was overcome in a little over three months in 2018 and had half as many cases reported.

It was reported that Ebola, a tropical fever that first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the DRC, is transmitted to humans from wild animals.