Vaccinations and quick response helps contain DRC Ebola outbreak

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Democratic Republic of Congo’s latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus is over, the health ministry has announced, after a 42-day observation period with no new confirmed cases recorded. News24 reports that there were 54 Ebola cases, including 33 deaths, in the outbreak that was declared in early May in northwest Equateur province, the ministry said.

Health officials said a quick international response and vaccinations of more than 3,300 people were major factors in containing the outbreak, DRC’s ninth since the haemorrhagic fever was first identified in 1976.

“Although the scale of the crisis we were facing was unprecedented, the speed and effectiveness of the response put in place by the government and its partners were also exceptional,” Health Minister Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga said.

The report says outbreak posed a serious challenge when it spread to the city of Mbandaka and its more than 1m people. The other initial cases were in remote, hard-to-reach rural areas without basic infrastructure such as electricity, making the vaccination effort more challenging.

“From the start, we had prepared for the worst of scenarios,” the health minister said. “And our fears were quickly confirmed with the confirmation on Wednesday, 16 May of the first cases of Ebola in the city of Mbandaka.” The city sits on the Congo River upstream from the capital, Kinshasa. There were concerns the virus would spread not only within the country but to neighbouring countries including Central African Republic.

The report says international organisations will remain in Congo for follow-up and monitoring.

The World Health Organisation, which played a major role in the outbreak response and delivery of the vaccines, congratulated DRC. “The outbreak was contained due to the tireless efforts of local teams, the support of partners, the generosity of donors and the effective leadership of the ministry of health. That kind of leadership, allied with strong collaboration between partners, saves lives,” said the WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

News24 report

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