Fresh Ebola outbreak in DR Congo likely to spread to neighboring countries: WHO

BUTEMBO, CONGO - JULY 27: A healthcare member inoculates a man for Ebola suspicion to take precautions against the disease in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 27, 2019. (Photo by JC Wenga/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The latest and ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is likely to spread to the neighboring Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare member inoculates a man to protect him against Ebola in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. /Getty Images

The DR Congo declared the 14th Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka of the northwestern Equateur Province, with two confirmed cases who died in the community before being diagnosed.

According to the WHO, gene sequencing indicates that the fresh outbreak is a spill-over event from the host/animal reservoir, other than being linked to previous outbreaks in the province.

“The outbreak risks spreading to other provinces, including Kinshasa (capital), as well as the neighboring Republic of Congo”, the WHO warned in a statement, adding that 267 contacts of the Ebola victims have been identified.

“The risk of regional and international spread of this epidemic is not precluded as the city of Mbandaka borders the Congo River and has river and land connections with the capital Kinshasa, the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Angola,” the WHO said in another statement on Thursday.

However, WHO describes the current risk as “moderate” at the regional level and “low” at the international level and still does not recommend any restriction on travel or trade to the DR Congo based on the current situation.

DR Congo is experiencing its 14th Ebola outbreak since 1976. The current outbreak is the sixth since 2018, the most frequent occurrence in the country’s Ebola history.