Three months later, the deadly Ebola virus has emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo

A woman has died from the Ebola virus in the eastern province of North Kivu, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) confirmed Monday.
Health authorities are working with the World Health Organization to track down close contacts of the woman.

The last Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo ended in November.
Health experts fear that a new outbreak of Ebola could overwhelm the country’s health system, which is under strain from the new outbreak.

Twelfth round?

Congo’s health minister, Etany Longundo, told state television on Sunday that the woman, who lived in a village near the city of Butembo in North Kivu province, had developed typical symptoms of the Ebola virus on Monday and died in a hospital in Butembo on Wednesday.
Her blood test came back positive for Ebola.

Longgondo said her husband was previously infected with Ebola and recovered.
Close contacts of the deceased are being tracked by local health authorities.

The Ebola virus, which got its name from its discovery in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal.
Once infected, people will experience fever, vomiting, bleeding and other symptoms.

The New England Journal of Medicine previously reported that Ebola can survive for more than three years in the semen of male survivors.

It was not immediately clear whether the latest confirmed cases marked the 12th outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In November 2020, the 11th round of Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was declared over. A total of 130 confirmed cases have been reported, including 55 deaths and 75 cured cases.

The World Health Organization stepped in

WHO has sent a team of experts to the area where the cases have been reported to assist local health authorities in the Republic of Congo to stop the spread of the virus, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Makidiso Rebecca Muti, said in a statement.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa said the area where the woman was diagnosed was the epicenter of the last outbreak and that “it is not uncommon for sporadic cases to continue after a pandemic.”

The World Health Organization confirmed that more than 70 people who had close contact with the woman had been traced, and that eradication efforts were under way wherever she had been.

In recent years, WHO has defined two Ebola outbreaks as public health emergencies of international concern.
One was the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, which killed more than 11,000 people.
The other was the tenth Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from August 2018 to June 2020, which killed more than 2,000 people.

The two epidemics are worrying in parallel

Although vaccination has reduced the rate of Ebola infection, the country faces a number of challenges in the event of a new outbreak, including a worrying security situation on its eastern border.

Public health experts fear a renewed outbreak of Ebola will add to the misery in the central African country, whose healthcare system is already under strain from the new outbreak.

Jason Jindrachuk, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba in Canada, is studying Ebola survivors in three countries in West Africa.
He told the Associated Press that while “early detection of cases would help control the epidemic quickly,” the last Ebola outbreak and a new outbreak soon after had stretched the country’s health system to its limits and would overwhelm it with another Ebola outbreak.

Nearly 700 people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being infected with the novel Coronavirus, Agence France-Presse reported.

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