DR Congo to announce end of Ebola outbreak in east region, W.H.O. says

FILE PHOTO: Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 25, 2019.REUTERS/Baz Ratner /File Photo
FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Photo credit FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is expected to announce the end of the Ebola outbreak in its eastern region on Thursday, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday.

The outbreak has seen about 3,500 cases reported and 2,300 deaths in the two years since the 10th outbreak was first reported, according to the W.H.O.

W.H.O. Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the development was only possible due to the “service and sacrifice” of thousands of Congolese health workers who worked in partnership with colleagues from the W.H.O. and other partners.

“W.H.O. is proud to have worked under the leadership of the government of the DRC to bring this outbreak under control,” Ghebreyesus said.

Ghebreyesus pointed out that several of the public health measures implemented in combating the Ebola epidemic are now crucial is suppressing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Finding every case, isolating every case, testing every case, caring for every case and relentless contact tracing; these are the measures that must remain the backbone of the response in every country. There are no shortcuts,” he added.

While the news of the end of the outbreak will be a welcome one, Ghebreyesus warned that Ebola and COVID-19 were not the only health threats facing the DR Congo and other low and middle income nations.

The DR Congo, though, still has to deal with a new outbreak in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province. The outbreak was announced on May 31 and is the country’s 11th outbreak since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976. At least 13 people have died in that outbreak, according to authorities.

The DR Congo is also is combating a measles epidemic that has killed over 6,000 people.

Ghebreyesus pledged that the W.H.O. will work with the Congolese government to strengthen its health system and its efforts to develop universal health coverage.