KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo – The government on Wednesday announced the end of the recent Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and closed the files on an outbreak in northwestern Equateur province that killed dozen over six months.
“I am pleased to be able to solemnly declare the end of the 11th Ebola virus epidemic,” Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists.
The World Health Organization said the most recent outbreak had killed 55 people among 119 confirmed and 11 likely cases since June 1.
Dr. Longondo’s announcement came after the Democratic Republic of the Congo crossed a 42-day threshold with no recorded cases – twice the time it took for the deadly virus to incubate. As during a previous epidemic in the east of the country, the widespread use of vaccinations given to more than 40,000 people helped contain the disease, according to the WHO.
The outbreak in Equateur began when health workers in the east were still battling an Ebola epidemic and have since taken tough measures to fight the coronavirus.
Despite the official end of the Equateur outbreak, Dr. Longondo be careful.
“There is still a high risk of resurgence and this should be an alarm signal for the strengthening of the surveillance system,” said the minister.
The eastern outbreak, which lasted from August 1, 2018 to June 25 of this year, was the worst in the country with 2,277 deaths. It was also the second highest number in the disease’s 44-year history, surpassed only by a three-country outbreak in West Africa from 2013 to 2016 that killed 11,300 people.
The Ebola virus spreads through contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions, or organs of an infected or recently deceased person. The early symptoms are high fever, weakness, severe muscle and joint pain, headache and sore throat, followed by internal and external bleeding and organ failure. According to the WHO, the death rate for some outbreaks is as high as 90 percent