DR Congo Ebola

DR Congo Ebola Outbreak ‘Not Global Emergency’

An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not yet an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization has said.

DR Congo Ebola

It said there was a “strong reason to believe that the outbreak can be brought under control”.

At least 45 people are believed to have been infected in the current outbreak and 25 deaths are being investigated.

Cases emerged in a rural area with one now confirmed in the north-western city of Mbandaka.

The city of about one million people is a transport hub on the River Congo, prompting fears that the virus could now spread further, threatening the capital Kinshasa and surrounding countries.

Although Ebola had already spread to an urban area, the experts said they believed the outbreak could be brought under control.

They also stressed that it was “particularly important there should be no international travel or trade restrictions”.

The WHO said it had identified more than 500 people who had potentially come into contact with Ebola patients in the country.

It said they would be closely monitored for symptoms of the disease and were likely to be among the first to be given an Ebola vaccine, which – although still in the experimental stage – proved effective during a trial.

The WHO said some health workers had become infected with Ebola.

WHO has previously admitted that it was too slow to respond to a deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014-2016 that killed more than 11,000 people.

Life in the Ebola zone

One teacher in the region told the BBC’s Newsday programme that people had stopped shaking hands when they greet. Ziko Ilema said: “I tried to greet a friend by shaking hands and he said: ‘No, did you forget that Ebola is here?'”

It also reports that officials are using infrared thermometers at the city’s river ports to scan travellers in case they have a fever.

“But we don’t have enough of the thermometers, so people are crowding up and getting annoyed,” said Joseph Dangbele, an official at the private Menge port.

Health Minister Oly Ilunga has announced that all healthcare in the affected areas would be free.

What is being done to contain the outbreak?

WHO says that of the 45 Ebola cases reported, 14 are confirmed, 21 are probable, and 10 are suspected.

They were recorded in Congo’s Equateur province. Mbandaka is the provincial capital.

Mr Salama said that isolation and rudimentary management facilities had been set up in the city.

He said the disease could have been taken there by people who attended the funeral of an Ebola victim in Bikoro, south of Mbandaka, before travelling to the city.

Why does Ebola keep returning?

This is the ninth outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo – it was named after the country’s Ebola river.

It is not possible to eradicate all the animals who might be a host for Ebola. As long as humans come in contact with them, there is always a possibility that Ebola could return.