New Ebola outbreak in northwest DR Congo: health ministry

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The World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also tweeted the developments, warning that COVID-19 was not the only health threat facing the world.

"UNICEF is working alongside the Government of DRC and all partners in the response to the Ebola epidemic by providing essential equipment, deploying community mobilizers, providing water and sanitation services, supporting orphans and other affected children", said UNICEF DRC Representative Edouard Beigbeder.

DR Congo on Monday reported a fresh Ebola outbreak in the country's northwest, just weeks before it hoped to declare the end of another epidemic in the east.

The conflict-wracked country is also fighting its own coronavirus outbreak, recording 3 195 infections - 2 896 in the capital Kinshasa - and 72 deaths, according to official figures released Monday. The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood, bodily fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

No coronavirus cases have been reported in Equateur province. "Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighbouring countries we must act quickly".

It was the deadliest in the history of the country since the discovery of the first Ebola epidemic around 1977 in the province of Bandundu. 33 people died after the May 2018 outbreak, and there were a total of 54 reported infections.

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The Ebola pandemic was at its worst when it took place across three countries in West Africa between the period of late 2013 and early 2016. "It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase", it stated. The WHO team supported the collection and testing of samples, and reference to the national laboratory for confirmation.

Five people have already died in Mbandaka, The New York Times reports. The world's leading health agency expects more outbreaks of Ebola to emerge in the Republic of Congo in the coming months.

On May 14, the Ministry of Health began the 42-day countdown to the declaration of the end of that outbreak.

However, no new cases have been detected there in over 30 days. Because Ebola has an incubation period of 21 days, that suggests the outbreak may be under control but World Health Organization waits for two full incubation periods, or 42 days, to be sure before determining that an outbreak has ended.

However, new outbreaks of Ebola are expected in the DRC given the existence of the virus in animal reservoirs in many parts of the country.

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