Initial information from the Ministry of Health is that six Ebola cases have so far been detected in Wangata, of which four have died and two are alive and under care. Three of these six cases have been confirmed with laboratory testing. It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase.
“The laboratory has given us the information that all the deaths analyzed since the 18th of May are a consequence of the Ebola virus,” Province Governor Bobo Boloko Bolumbu announced Monday on local radio.
He added that the samples were sent to the country’s national medical research organization for more tests.
“I ask the population to be calm and to continue to respect hygiene measures,” Bolumbu added, according to The Telegraph. “Regularly wash your hands with soap. Don’t, say, greet with your hands. Don’t touch ill or dead people who had a fever or bleeding.”
This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976. The city of Mbandaka and its surrounding area were the sites of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which took place from May to July 2018.
“This is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Although much of our attention is on the pandemic, WHO is continuing to monitor and respond to many other health emergencies.”
According to Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, “It’s happening at a challenging time, but WHO has worked over the last two years with health authorities, Africa CDC and other partners to strengthen national capacity to respond to outbreaks.”
“To reinforce local leadership, WHO plans to send a team to support scaling up the response. Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighboring countries we must act quickly,” he added.
WHO is already on the ground in Mbandaka supporting the response to this outbreak, as part of capacity built during the 2018 outbreak and is also working to ensure that essential health services are provided to communities despite these emergency events.