Three new Ebola cases discovered in DRC

Latest flare-up appears to be linked to huge 2018-20 outbreak, says WHO

Jon Sharman
Monday 18 October 2021 12:57 BST
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<p>Health workers in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, during the 2018-20 outbreak (File photo)</p>

Health workers in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, during the 2018-20 outbreak (File photo)

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Three new Ebola cases have been confirmed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing the total to five in the last 10 days, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

Health officials said the latest flare-up of the virus appeared to be linked to the massive 2018-20 outbreak which killed more than 2,200 people, and infected more than 1,000 others.

The cases were detected on Saturday in the health district of Butsili, close to the city of Beni where the last outbreak was centred, the WHO said in a statement. Three people out of the five confirmed cases have died.

Resurgences after a major Ebola outbreak can be caused by latent infections that linger in the semen of survivors. Another cluster of cases linked to the 2018-20 epidemic broke out in February and was contained by May after six deaths.

Vaccines have revolutionised medics’ ability to contain recent outbreaks more quickly. Last week they began vaccinating contacts of the cases using a shot manufactured by Merck. It is one of two available Ebola vaccines, of which the other is made by Johnson & Johnson.

Ebola is an extremely dangerous haemorragic virus that is spread through bodily fluids.

Last week, a WHO study revealed fears that across the African continent just one in seven cases of Ebola are being detected. “With limited testing, we’re still flying blind in far too many communities,” said Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of the UN body.

Under new plans, active surveillance measures will be implemented in a 100m “ring” around the homes people confirmed to be infected.

The UN plans to test some seven million people across eight countries in the next year.

Additional reporting by agencies

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