New outbreak of Ebola confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus confirmed a second outbreak of Ebola in Congo (Getty Images)
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus confirmed a second outbreak of Ebola in Congo (Getty Images)

A second outbreak of Ebola has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Ebola epidemic comes as the country struggles to get to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the world’s largest outbreak of measles.

The central African country have yet to declare and end to their Ebola epidemic which has claimed 2,243 lives since August 2018.

Previously the Ebola outbreak was contained within the country’s eastern region, but a second outbreak has sprouted in the north near the city of Mbandaka.

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    Six cases have been identified in the north so far, including four deaths.

    Covid-19 not the only threat

    World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said that the outbreak was a stark reminder that coronavirus was not the only threat facing people.

    He said: “This outbreak is a reminder that COVID 19 is not the only health threat people face. WHO is continuing to monitor & respond to many health emergencies.”

    WHO have sent staff to Mbandanka to support local medical teams.

    “It’s happening at a challenging time, but WHO has worked over the last two years with health authorities, Africa CDC and other partners to strengthen national capacity to respond to outbreaks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

    11th time Ebola has hit the region

    This outbreak marks the 11th time Ebola has hit the province since the virus was first discovered in Congo in 1976. Two years ago an outbreak killed 33 people before the disease was brought under control in a matter of months.

    Covid-19 has already touched seven of Congo's 25 provinces, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases and 72 deaths. However, like many African countries Congo has conducted extremely limited testing, and observers fear the true toll may be far higher.

    While Ebola and Covid-19 have drawn far more international attention, measles has killed more Congolese than those diseases combined. The WHO said there have been 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths since 2019.

    "This quadruple threat could prove lethal for millions of children and their families," said Anne-Marie Connor, national director in Congo for the aid organisation World Vision.

    What is Ebola and is it a threat to the UK?

    Ebola is an infectious and frequently fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by an Ebola virus.

    Ebola has a high mortality rate, but is only spread through intimate contact with body secretions, such as blood or vomit.

    In December 2014 Pauline Cafferkey, a Scottish aid worker tested positive for Ebola after returning to Glasgow from Sierra Leone.

    After a period of critical illness in January 2015 she recovered from the illness, though relapsed on a couple of occasions.

    According to the NHS, the risk to the UK is thought to be very low, and, while someone with the virus can bring it to the UK, the risk of it spreading is very low.