The Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared the end of the Ebola outbreak that erupted less than three months ago in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province in the northwest.
It was the third outbreak in the province since 2018 and the country’s 14th overall.
The World Health Organisation in a statement on Tuesday said there were four confirmed cases and one probable case – all of whom died in the outbreak declared on April 23.
In the previous outbreak in Equateur Province that lasted from June to November 2020, there were 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths, the WHO said.
“Thanks to the robust response by the national authorities, this outbreak has been brought to an end swiftly with limited transmission of the virus,” said the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti. “Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response.”
The UN body noted that the just ended outbreak saw a total of 2104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1307 frontline workers. To facilitate the vaccination rollout, an ultra-cold chain freezer was installed in Mbandaka which allowed for vaccine doses to be stored locally and safely and be delivered effectively.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has now recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, six of which have occurred since 2018.
“Africa is seeing an increase in Ebola and other infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans impacting large urban areas,” said Dr Moeti. “We need to be ever more vigilant to ensure we catch cases quickly. This outbreak response shows that by bolstering preparedness, disease surveillance and swift detection, we can stay a step ahead.”
Although the outbreak in Mbandaka has been declared over, WHO urged health authorities to keep maintaining surveillance and be ready to respond quickly to any flare-ups as it is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following an outbreak.
“The disease, which affects humans and other primates, is severe and often fatal. Case fatality rates have varied from 25 percent to 90 perceni in past outbreaks. However, with the currently available effective treatment, patients have a significantly higher chance of survival if they are treated early and given supportive care,” it said.