Resurgence of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Feb. 8, 2021

The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced that a new case of Ebola has been detected in Butembo, a city in North Kivu Province, where a previous outbreak was declared over in June 2020, according to a news release from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Butembo branch of the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) confirmed Ebola in samples taken from a patient with Ebola-like symptoms who had sought treatment at a local health center. The woman was the wife of an Ebola survivor. She has since died.

Butembo was one of the epicenters of the previous Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC. It is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following a major outbreak, the WHO said.

Due to the local capacity built in the previous outbreak, the North Kivu Provincial health authorities are leading the current response with support from the WHO. The WHO has provided training to laboratory technicians, contact tracers, local vaccination teams and has reached out to community groups to raise Ebola awareness as well as put in place an Ebola survivor program.

WHO epidemiologists are on the ground investigating the case. Already more than 70 contacts have been identified. Disinfection of sites visited by patient is also ongoing.

Samples from the confirmed Ebola patient have been sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Research’s main laboratory in Kinshasa for genome sequencing to identify the strain of the Ebola and to determine its link to the previous outbreak.

The DRC’s 10th Ebola outbreak, which lasted for nearly two years, was the second largest in the world. By the time it ended, there were 3481 cases, 2299 deaths and 1162 survivors, the WHO said.

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