New Ebola outbreak in Congo amid coronavirus
Published: 11:50 AM, 2 June 2020
Congo hit by second Ebola outbreak as country faces coronavirus and measles crises
A fresh outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has struck the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the Central African country struggles to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and the world's largest measles outbreak.
The country’s health ministry said that the new Ebola outbreak has killed four people and infected at least two more in Mbandaka, a city in the northwest.
The new victims died on May 18 but test results confirming ebola only came back over the weekend, Congolese health minister Eteni Longondo said.
Less than two months ago, Congo was about to declare an official end to an Ebola epidemic on the eastern side of the country that had lasted nearly two years and killed more than 2,275 people. Then, with just two days to go, a new case was found, and the outbreak could not be declared over. But officials say it is in its final stages.
It is unclear how Ebola emerged in Mbandaka, which is about 750 miles west of the nearly-vanquished outbreak on the country’s eastern edge. Congo (formerly known as Zaire) is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, and has been under travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Congo has reported 3,049 cases of coronavirus, including 71 deaths, but testing is limited, so it is impossible to know the true scale of the outbreak. Besides, more than 350,000 people have been infected with measles in the country since January 2019, and over 6,500 have died.
Ebola causes fever, bleeding, weakness and abdominal pain, and kills about half of those it infects. It is transmitted through contact with sick or dead people or animals, and is named for the Ebola River, in Congo, where it was first identified, in 1976.
The largest known outbreak of Ebola erupted in 2014 in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and killed more than 11,000 people. But since then, researchers have developed vaccines and treatment methods that can limit transmission of the disease.