Ebola: Second person dies in Congo in a week amid fears of new major outbreak

Both deaths recorded in province of North Kivu in DRC's northeast, which borders Uganda and Rwanda

Matt Mathers@MattEm90
Thursday 11 February 2021 09:48

Two people have died from Ebola in the same province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the space of a week, raising fears of a resurgence in a major outbreak.

A 60-year-old woman from the district of Biena, North Kivu province, died on Wednesday, according to a statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and local health ministry.

DRC's health ministry has deployed a team to the health zones of Biena and Katwa to trace more than 100 contacts of the woman and a second woman who died last week, also in North Kivu.

The country's health minister, Eteni Longondo, said the 42-year-old victim died on 3 February in Butembo town.

She had fallen ill several days earlier and was taken to a hospital where it was confirmed she had Ebola.

The case came less than three months after another outbreak of the disease elsewhere in the country was declared over.

Local health chiefs are concerned that a resurgence of Ebola during the Covid-19 pandemic could overwhelm the country's already fragile health system.

Ebola swept through eastern Congo from 2018 to 2020 in an outbreak that killed more than 2,200 people before it was declared over last June.

It is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following a major outbreak, according to the WHO.

DRC's equatorial forests have been a breeding ground for the Ebola virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through contact with body fluids.

The country has experienced 11 outbreaks since the virus was first discovered near the Ebola river in 1976.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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