The end of the 11th DRC outbreak

Modesto Morganelli
Novembre 20, 2020

An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is over, the government announced on Wednesday, after a five-month response supported by the UN's World Health Organization (WHO), and other partners.

"The technology used to keep the Ebola vaccine in super low temperatures will help when the Covid-19 vaccine is brought to Africa", he added.

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The two outbreaks were geographically far apart.

The outbreak emerged in June, just before Congo declared the end of a separate Ebola epidemic in the east that was the second-deadliest on record, killing more than 2,200 people.

Longondo attributed the success of the response to the ready availability of vaccines and treatments as well as efforts to move treatment centres closer to local communities.

Health workers tried to counteract this fear by visiting local communities to increase their understanding of the virus.

Longondo called on the population to remain vigilant and continue to observe hygiene measures "to avoid the resurgence of Ebola but also to prevent the spread of coronavirus which is raging in the country".

All the while, they had to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions and precautions such as wearing protective gear.

"Tackling one of the world's most risky pathogens in isolated and hard-to-reach communities proves what is possible when science and solidarity converge", said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. "Combating Ebola in parallel with Covid-19 has not been easy, but much of the knowledge we have gained in one disease is applicable to the other, and underscore the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and increasing local capacity". The ARKTEK freezers they used can keep vaccines in the field for up to a week and make it possible to vaccinate people in locations without electricity.

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the DRC, and gets its name from a river in the latter nation.

Ebola causes fever, severe headaches and in some cases hemorrhaging.

The response to both diseases involves finding, isolating, testing, and caring for every case and relentless contact tracing.

The virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth.

The outbreak was declared in May and began at a time when experts were about to declaring an end to the 10th outbreak in North Kivu Province. Their work is even more remarkable given that it came at a time of tremendous additional uncertainty that was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While the 11th outbreak is over, there is a need for continued vigilance and maintaining strong surveillance as potential flare-ups are possible in the months to come".

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