The World Health Organization (WHO) has finally announced the end of the second deadliest outbreak of Ebola virus in Democratic Republic of Congo after two years of the epidemic that has caused 2,280 deaths since August 2018. The end of Ebola virus comes at the cost of numerous health workers who had to go through mistrust and were attacked despite their services.
DR Congo's deadliest Ebola outbreak declared over https://t.co/kRWPB2JLmz
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) June 25, 2020
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has officially been declared over, almost two years after it began. So far, no new cases of the Ebola disease have been reported in the country’s north west region where dozens of armed groups operate, since 27 April. On record, the deadliest outbreak in West Africa occurred from 2014 to 2016 causing more than 11,000 casualties.
The outbreak in eastern DR Congo was the 10th to have hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered by a group of scientists who decided to call it Ebola after a local river. Health Minister Eteni Longondo described it as “the longest, most complex and deadliest” in the DR Congo’s history.
— Colombe Cahen-Salvador (@ColombeCS) June 26, 2020
Why it took so long? The question still remains. However, there are numerous justifications that health authorities give. Decades of conflict in the east have led to widespread mistrust of the authorities, which has made it harder for health workers to treat sick and at-risk people. Over 420 attacks on health facilities have been reported in the region by armed groups since 2018, which greatly hampered efforts to contain the spread of the disease. Another challenge in tackling the eastern outbreak was its geographical span across 1200km (475 miles) and three provinces – North Kivu, Ituri and South Kivu, she says.
The WHO while saying try to encourage the citizens of the Congo state to celebrate. It states that the outbreak in east was the deadliest. Further, that region was not only exposed to Ebola outbreak, but had been exposed to endemic of insecurity since ages. Therefore, this time is especially a time of celebration for people of Congo as it had a been a tough and often dangerous two years for those involved in fighting it.
However, in the DR Congo, which is the size of mainland western Europe, it was reported that there has been a news circulating about a fresh Ebola outbreak in the north-west of the country. The case in Mbandaka was announced on 1 June where 13 people have died since then. Yet, the genetic analysis showed that the reported fresh cases were caused by another strain of the virus which was a different type to that found in the east.
Contrary, the WHO in DR Congo claimed that the situation in Mbandaka, the country’s 11th outbreak is almost under control. But new Ebola outbreaks are to be expected given the existence of the virus in animals in many parts of DR Congo, the WHO says. For an outbreak to be declared over, there has to be a 42-day period since the last positive case was tested negative and discharged from hospital.
Lastly, the constant fear of the deadly Ebola virus which sees patients suffer gruesome symptoms and rules out customary burial rites has been another challenge.
“This is a sign of hope that with solidarity and science epidemics can be controlled,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.