The Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday declared a fresh Ebola epidemic in the vast African country's northwest city Mbandaka. This adds to an existing outbreak of Ebola in the east, as well as the coronavirus pandemic. The country's health ministry has confirmed that all those who have died have tested positive for the deadly Ebola.
The outbreak has also been confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which warned that coronavirus isn't the only virus that is a threat to people at this moment. Congo has long been struggling with an Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands over the past couple of years.
Ebola Spreads Through Congo
Congo's Health Minister Eteni Longondo said at a press conference on Monday that four people have died in Mbandaka. He added that the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) had confirmed that the samples taken in the northwestern city of Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province, tested positive for Ebola. "We have a new Ebola epidemic in Mbandaka," Longondo told reporters. "We are going to very quickly send them the vaccine and medicine."
Mbandaka is 1,000 kilometers from another ongoing outbreak of Ebola. Equateur Province was previously hit by an Ebola outbreak between May and July 2018, in which 33 people died and 21 recovered from the disease.
The outbreak was also confirmed by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who tweeted: "This outbreak is a reminder that #COVID19 is not the only health threat people face." Congo also has been gripped by coronavirus which is fast spreading in the African nation and will now pose a big challenge for the health authorities.
Congo Faces Dual Challenge
The coronavirus outbreak has not spared Congo, which doesn't have a well-equipped healthcare system to handle an outbreak of the scale of Ebola and Covid-19. Congo has recorded 3,195 infections – 2 896 in the capital Kinshasa – and 72 deaths, according to official figures released Monday.
The conflict-wracked country has been struggling to put an end to the two-year-old Ebola outbreak near its eastern borders with Rwanda and Uganda, which has claimed more than 2,200 lives so far in the world's second-deadliest outbreak of the disease so far. In April, Congo was gearing up to announce the end of the second-largest epidemic on record, when a new chain of infections were confirmed in the eastern parts of the country.
For Ebola to be officially over in Congo, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days – double the incubation period. However, no new cases have been reported from the east in the past one month.