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New Ebola Outbreak Kills Five In Congo, UNICEF Says

Ebola Outbreak in Congo

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, five people including a 15-year-old girl have died due to the newest deadly Ebola virus which has flared up in the Democratic Republic of Cong on Monday. Nine total cases have been reported till now. 

“Four additional people who contracted the virus — all contacts of the deceased and including the child of one of the fatal cases — are being treated in an isolation unit at the Wangata Hospital in Mbandaka,” a statement from UNICEF said.

“The deaths occurred between the 18th and 30th of May but they were only confirmed as Ebola-related yesterday.”

Congo, the country which was already battling with the world’s largest measles epidemic, as well as the coronavirus outbreak is now fighting the Ebola outbreak.

Congo’s health ministry said that the new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka has killed four people and infected at least two more, a city of 1.2 million people on the country’s northwest equator province. According to UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, a fifth person also died on Monday. This is the country’s 11th deadly outbreak of the virus, which is passed by bodily fluids and has a death rate of anywhere between 25% and 90%, depending on the outbreak.

Less than two months ago, Congo was about to announce an official end to an Ebola pandemic on the eastern side of the country that had lasted almost two years and killed more than 2,275 people. Later, with just two days to go, a new case was discovered, and the outbreak could not be declared over. However, officials say it is in its final stages.

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It is still unclear how Ebola developed in Mbandaka, which is about 750 miles west of the nearly-vanquished outbreak on the country’s eastern edge. Congo (formerly known as Zaire) is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and has been under travel limitations to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“The announcement comes as a long, difficult and complex Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak,” WHO said in a statement.

Reported cases of coronavirus have so far been mainly in the capital, Kinshasa, also in the country’s west. Congo has reported 3,195 cases of coronavirus, including 72 deaths, but the testing in the country is insufficient, so it is impossible to know the true scale of the outbreak.

The worst epidemic affecting the Democratic Republic of Congo is Measles. The pandemic has reported more than 370,000 people who have been infected with measles in the country since January 2019 and killed over 6,779 people yet.

Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, wrote on Twitter that the new outbreak of Ebola may pose a challenge, but the W.H.O., along with Congo’s health ministry and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was ready to undertake it.

How deadly is the virus: Ebola causes fever, bleeding, weakness and abdominal pain, and kills nearly half of those it infects. It is transmitted through contact with sick or dead people or even animals (specifically bats) and is named after the Ebola River, in Congo, where it was first identified, in 1976.

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The deadliest known outbreak of Ebola erupted in 2014-2016 in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which infected more than 28,000 people and more than 11,000 of them died. But ever since then, researchers have developed vaccines and treatment methods that can restrict the transmission of the disease.

In eastern Congo, continuous violence and insecurity that has forced people to flee their homes have also made it difficult to end the pandemic. By comparison, the western Équateur Province, where the new Ebola cases have appeared, is relatively more safe and stable.

The government imposed travel restrictions between the country’s provinces due to the coronavirus outbreak, which may now also help restrict the spread of Ebola from Mbandaka.

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