DR Congo officially declares Ebola outbreak in eastern region over

Democratic Republic of Congo Minister of Public Health Dr. Eteni Longondo (second from right) addresses the media on the state of the Ebola outbreak in the country’s eastern region. COURTESY: TWITTER/World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa

The Ebola outbreak in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Ituri and North Kivu provinces is officially over.

The announcement was made on Thursday by the Congolese Minister of Public Health Dr. Eteni Longondo after the country went more than 55 days without reporting a new case.

The outbreak in the east, the 10th wave, began in August 2018 and saw about 3,500 cases reported and nearly 2,300 deaths according to the World Health Organisation.

It was the second worst outbreak of the disease after the one in West Africa in 2014 which killed more than 11,000 people.

The fight against the 10th outbreak faced a number of challenges including attacks by rebel groups on health workers and centres and a lack of trust in the government and foreigners.

The W.H.O. congratulated the DR Congo on the achievement and paid tribute to all the health workers who were involved in combatting the epidemic.

“It wasn’t easy and at times it seemed like a mission impossible. Ending this Ebola outbreak is a sign of hope for the Region and the world, that with solidarity and science and courage and commitment, even the most challenging epidemics can be controlled,” W.H.O. Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said.

Moeti’s comments echoed those of W.H.O. Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who, on Wednesday, said that this result 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.

The DR Congo, though, still has to deal with a new outbreak in Mbandaka, the capital of the western 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. There have so far been 24 confirmed cases and 13 people have died in that outbreak, according to authorities.