There seems to be no end in sight to the health crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Earlier this month, health officials reported a second Ebola outbreak in the West African country.
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According to reports, the second Ebola outbreak was announced after six cases, including four deaths, were identified near Mbandaka the capital of the Equateur province in the north of the country. Congo has battled an Ebola outbreak in its eastern region since 2018. It also continues to try to fight the global health crisis and to curb the spread of a measles outbreak. The new outbreak of Ebola is the 11th to be faced by the country since the virus was identified in 1976.
The New Ebola Outbreak
Congo’s health minister, Dr Eteni Longondo said that the four victims of the second Ebola outbreak died on 18 May. However, health officials received the test results that confirmed they had contracted the viral haemorrhagic fever several days after the deaths.
According to UNICEF, four more people were placed in isolation at a Mbandaka hospital. The World Health Organisation said it had already despatched teams to start combating the latest health challenge faced by the country.
Speaking at a join media briefing by WHO and the World Economic Forum, WHO’s African regional director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said that the organisation was deeply concerned about the new Ebola cases. She added that the organisation and the National Institute were using gene sequencing to find out if the virus that caused the new cases was the same one responsible for the North Kivu outbreak.
WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the recent development in Congo was a reminder that the global health crisis was not the only threat that people must contend with.
No End To First Outbreak
Although the situation in the eastern part of Congo is nowhere near as bad as it was a few months ago, the government has not yet declared that the Ebola epidemic is at an end. That outbreak began in August 2018, and it claimed the lives of more than 2,240 people.
The last known patient who tested positive for the Ebola virus was discharged from hospital in May. If no new cases are reported for a month, the government may declare that the outbreak is over.
Numbers Possibly Inaccurate
At least seven of Congo’s 25 provinces have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. According to reports, the country has more than 4,000 confirmed cases and more than 80 deaths. There have been more than 500 recoveries.
However, there are fears that the numbers of cases and deaths may be much higher than the official figures indicate. This is due to the limited amount of tested that has been conducted so far.
The country was placed under lockdown on 31 March. Initially due to be lifted on 30 April, the lockdown was extended until mid-May. Unfortunately, health workers have found themselves victims in a rising number of attacks. Along with this, getting people to cooperative with regulations such as the mandatory wearing of masks in public has not been easy.
Devastating Measles Outbreak
While international eyes have been focused on the global health crisis and Ebola outbreaks in Congo, the country’s measles outbreak has had far more devastating effects. More Congolese people have died from measles than from Ebola in the past few months.
According to WHO, the country has seen more than 369,520 confirmed cases of measles and more than 6,779 deaths since 2019. World Vision’s national director for Congo, Anne-Marie Connor said that the threat of two Ebola outbreaks, as well as measles, could claim the lives of millions of children and their families.
Ebola At A Glance
Also known as Ebola virus disease, Ebola can affect humans and other primates. It was first identified in 1976 following simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and Congo. The virus is thought to be transmitted primarily by fruit bats, although they are seldom if ever affected by it.
Typical initial symptoms of the viral haemorrhagic fever include headaches, sore throat, sore muscles, and fever. Those symptoms are followed by a rash, diarrhoea, vomiting, and internal and external bleeding. The liver and kidneys also are affected and the average survival rate is around 50%.