Congo confirms second Ebola death in days: WHO

The nation might be witnessing a second wave of the deadly infection which was thought to have stopped

The Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed its second Ebola death in days following more than seven weeks without a single case, as stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Sunday.

The African country has been due on Sunday to mark an end of the second-deadliest outbreak of the virus on record until a case got recorded on Friday in the eastern city of Beni. The outbreak has resulted in the death of more than 2,200 people since August of 2018 in the country.

Congo records second Ebola deaths in days

National Microbiology Laboratary
Scientists at Canada's National National Microbiology Laboratory have developed a new 2-antibody cocktail for Ebola treatment. Reuters

The latest victim was an 11-month-old girl, who was treated at the same health centre as the previous case, a 26-year-old electrician, said Boubacar Diallo, deputy incident manager for the WHO's Ebola response. Officials say it is not yet clear how the electrician contracted Ebola. He had no known contacts with other Ebola patients and was not a survivor of the virus who could have relapsed, the government said on Friday.

Flare-ups or one-off transmissions are common towards the end of Ebola outbreaks, and a new case does not necessarily mean that the virus will spread out of control again. Ebola causes fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea and spreads among humans through bodily fluids. During this outbreak it killed about two thirds of those it infected.

WHO identified 215 people who came into contact with the electrician

The WHO has identified 215 people who came into contact with the electrician, including 53 health workers at three facilities the man visited before he died, Diallo said. All but one of the health workers had already been vaccinated, he said. Two new vaccines have helped contain the virus, though public mistrust and militia attacks prevented health workers from reaching some hard-hit areas.

On Saturday, a group of angry young men threw stones at a team of WHO workers and Beni's deputy mayor as they attempted to decontaminate the electrician's home and trace his contacts, Diallo said. "For them Ebola is over," he told Reuters. "People here have some problems understanding how this case just came two days before the declaration of the end," Diallo said. The deputy mayor was forced to abandon his car and escape by motorbike taxi, said Kambale Sabuni, head of the police in Beni.

(With agency inputs)