New ebola outbreak in Congo amid coronavirus pandemic

A second ebola outbreak has struck Congo as the Central African country struggles to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and the world’s largest measles outbreak, health officials have announced.

The Democratic Republic of Congo was yet to declare an official end to ebola in its troubled east, where over 2200 people have died since an epidemic began there in August 2018.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) says authorities in the country have now identified six new cases, including four fatalities.

“This is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

UNICEF said four other people were being held in isolation at a hospital in Mbandaka, a city in the northwest.

The victims died on May 18 but test results confirming ebola only came back over the weekend, Congolese health minister Eteni Longondo said.

The WHO said it already had teams on the ground in the country.

This announcement marks the 11th time ebola has hit the province since the virus was first discovered in the Congo in 1976. An ebola outbreak that occurred two years ago killed 33 people before the disease was brought under control in a matter of months.

The latest cases turned up in Wangata health zone near the port city of Mbandaka, which is home to approximately 1.2 million people.

The last known ebola patient in the country’s east was released in mid-May but the country now must go about another month without any new cases before a declaration can be made.

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