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A doctor puts his personal protective equipment on before going to treat patients who are suspected of being infected by Ebola in Beni, North Kivu region, Democratic Republic of Congo, in January 2019.
Vincent Tremeau/World Bank
Health

The DRC Has a New Ebola Outbreak. It's Now Fighting Ebola, COVID-19, and Measles.


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Ebola has claimed more than 2,000 lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the current outbreak began in August 2018. Eradicating the virus is important to achieving the UN’s Global Goal 3 for good health and wellbeing for everyone, as is strengthening global health systems to respond to health crises. Join us in taking action here to help achieve this goal.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a new Ebola outbreak in the northeast province of the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday released a statement announcing the outbreak in Mbandaka, in Équateur province. According to the statement, six cases have been confirmed, with four deaths and two patients under medical care. 

“It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase," added the statement.

Ebola was first discovered in the DRC in 1976 in what has been called one of the deadliest outbreaks in history. The outbreak that was declared by the country’s health ministry in August 2018 is the 11th.

Meanwhile, Mbandaka has had two outbreaks since 2018, when the DRC’s health ministry declared an outbreak. At the last count on May 25, there had been a total of 3,406 cases of Ebola  and 2,243 deaths.

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"The latest cases in Mbandaka come at a challenging time," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, given that the country is also dealing with COVID-19.

To date, there have been 3,195 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the DRC since March.

David Walubila Mwinyi, medical data supervisor in South Kivu at Doctors Without Borders, said while the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are low, it likely has to do with the country's lack of resources for testing.

The DRC, which has a population of 89 million, only has one laboratory that can test for COVID-19, which is in the capital city Kinshasa and has capacity for about 100 tests a day, according to Mwinyi. 

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There is also an outbreak of measles that started in the DRC at the beginning of 2019. The World Health Organisation called it the world’s worst measles epidemic in January 2020 after the death toll surpassed 6,000.

“This [the latest Ebola outbreak] is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General at WHO.

He added: “Although much of our attention is on the [COVID-19] pandemic, WHO is continuing to monitor and respond to many other health emergencies.”