Hopes that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) would be declared Ebola-free in April have been dashed, after a new case of the disease was confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on April 10.
The new infection was recorded in the city of Beni, in the north eastern region of the country.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said: “While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high-risk areas for precisely this reason.”
The DRC has been battling an Ebola outbreak since August 2018. There was hope that the tide had started turning when the last Ebola patient, identified as Masiko, was released from hospital on March 3. At the time, there hadn’t been an infection in 14 days.
The WHO added that health workers and surveillance teams had continued monitoring infections, including “alerts" — meaning a suspected case of infection. This could be a person who shows symptoms that are similar to those of the Ebola virus, such as fever, severe body and joint pains, and fatigue.
Any death in high-risk areas, like Beni, that could have been a result of Ebola is also considered an alert — and according to the WHO, thousands of alerts are still being investigated every day.
The WHO said health workers in Beni are currently tracing people who may have come into contact with the infected individual, to offer them the vaccine and monitor their health.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said: “WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC for over 18 months and our teams are right now supporting the investigation into this latest case.”
She added: “Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”