Three months after the first case was reported in North Kivu, today marks the end of the 12th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Ebola outbreak re-emerged in February came nine months after another outbreak in the same province was declared over.
The World Health Organization (WHO) salutes DRC health authorities and the heath workers for their swift response which built on the country’s previous experience in tackling Ebola outbreaks. This outbreak is the country’s fourth in less than three years.
When the Ministry of Health announced the resurgence of Ebola in Butembo, one of the hotspots of the 2018–2020 outbreak, eleven confirmed cases and one probable case, six deaths and six recoveries were recorded in four health zones since 7 February.
Results from genome sequencing conducted by the country’s National Institute of Biomedical Research found that the first Ebola case detected in the outbreak was linked to the previous outbreak, but the source of infection is yet to be determined.
WHO had nearly 60 experts on ground who helped local workers to trace contacts, provide treatment, engage communities and vaccinate nearly 2000 people at high risk, including over 500 frontline workers.
The response was often affected by insecurity caused by armed groups and social disturbances which at times limited the movement of responders. Butembo city is about 150 km from the Uganda border and there were concerns over the potential cross-border spread of the outbreak. However, due to the effective response the outbreak stayed limited to North Kivu province.
While the 12th outbreak is over, there is a need for continued vigilance and maintaining a strong surveillance system as potential flare-ups are possible in the months to come. It is important to continue with sustained disease surveillance, monitoring of alerts, and working with communities to detect and respond rapidly to any new cases, and WHO will continue to assist health authorities with their efforts to contain quickly a sudden re-emergence of Ebola. There is an ongoing Ebola outbreak in Guinea experienced an outbreak in February of this year and discharged its last patient in April.