Kinshasa, DRC | Xinhua | The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officially declared Thursday the end of the latest Ebola outbreak, the second outbreak in 2021, according to the DRC’s health authorities.
In total, 11 cases — eight confirmed, three probable, including six deaths, were reported in the outbreak that was declared on October 8 in the DRC’s northeastern North Kivu Province. This was the country’s 13th outbreak and occurred in the same area as the 2018 outbreak which lasted two years.
Thanks to the experience of the DRC’s response team and its health partners, the outbreak has been brought under control in about two months after its declaration, said the DRC’s health minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani.
“Stronger disease surveillance, community engagement, targeted vaccination and prompt response are making for more effective Ebola containment in the region,” said Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.
“During this outbreak, th DRC was able to limit widespread infections and save lives. Crucial lessons are being learned and applied with every outbreak experience,” noted Moeti.
According to the WHO, more than 1,800 people have been vaccinated in a campaign that kicked off just five days after the first case was detected. The outbreak marks the first time the recently-licensed ERVEBO vaccine against Ebola was used in the country.
However, unpredictable and sometimes volatile security in parts of Beni, where the initial case of the outbreak was detected, hampered response in some localities, with health workers and other frontline responders unable to access insecure areas to monitor high-risk contacts or administer vaccines, warned the WHO.
With the outbreak now declared over, the DRC’s health authorities are still maintaining surveillance and are ready to respond quickly to any flare-ups, as the North Kivu province has also experienced the 12th Ebola outbreak that killed six people from February to May 2021.
Results from genome sequencing conducted by the DRC’s National Institute of Biomedical Research found that the first Ebola case detected in the 13th outbreak likely represented a new flare-up of the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak that had killed more than 2,200 people in eastern DRC, the second deadliest on record.