DR Congo declares end of latest Ebola outbreak

Health workers dressed in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC, July 16, 2019,Jerome Delay/ AP Photo
Health workers dressed in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC, on July 16, 2019. /AP Photo

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday declared the end of an Ebola outbreak that emerged in early October in North Kivu province and infected 11 people, killing six of them.

DR Congo declared its 13th outbreak of the disease on October 8 in Beni in the east of the country, prompting fears of a repeat of a 2018-2020 epidemic that killed nearly 2,300 people in the same region, the second-highest toll recorded in the disease’s history.

“My warm congratulations to health workers in the health zone of Beni who have suspended their strike movement to cope with this epidemic,” Health Minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani told an online news briefing.

The virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and is spread through contact with body fluids, was first discovered near the Ebola River in 1976.

Health authorities vaccinated more than 1,800 people using Merck’s recently licensed ERVEBO vaccine, the World Health Organization said in a statement.

“During this outbreak, the Democratic Republic of Congo was able to limit widespread infections and save lives. Crucial lessons are being learned and applied with every outbreak experience,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director.

“Stronger disease surveillance, community engagement, targeted vaccination and prompt response are making for more effective Ebola containment in the region,” Moeti said.