13, May 2017
The first Ebola outbreak since the crisis in West Africa that killed 11,300 people has been declared in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization said Friday, after the virus caused three deaths in the area. In a television address, Health Minister Oly Ilunga confirmed the cases while urging the population “not to panic.”
The country “has taken all necessary measures to respond quickly and efficiently to this new outbreak,” he said. The DR Congo outbreak is the first there in three years. The three deaths all occurred since April 22. The WHO said it was working closely with DR Congo authorities to help deploy health workers and protective equipment in the remote area, which is difficult for teams to access, in order to “rapidly control the outbreak.”
The organization underlined the importance of tracing people who had contact with confirmed victims to prevent the disease spreading. Sufferers are advised to keep themselves isolated while awaiting treatment for a disease whose incubation period is 21 days.
The WHO said the outbreak, the eighth to date in DR Congo, had affected an equatorial forest region difficult to access in Bas-Uele province, bordering Central African Republic. The last instance of Ebola in Congo in 2014, which was not linked to an outbreak in neighboring states at the time, was quickly contained and killed 49 people according to official figures.
That outbreak saw 66 registered cases hit the district of Boende some 800 kilometers (500 miles) northeast of Kinshasa for an official fatality rate of 74.2 percent. The United Nations at the time saluted the “immense work” DR Congo authorities had put in to contain the disease spread. In 2013, an Ebola crisis began in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.