Over 10,300 cases and 260 deaths of the Ebola virus since Friday
Ebola is spreading throughout the western provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), raising fears that the disease could reach neighbouring Republic of Congo and even the capital, Kinshasa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
The outbreak in Equateur Province emerged in early June and has now spread into another of its 17 health zones, bringing the total number of affected zones to 12.
“The most recently affected area, Bomongo, is the second affected health zone that borders the Republic of Congo, which heightens the chances of this outbreak to spread into another country”, said WHO Spokesperson, Fadéla Chaib, underlining the need for cross-border collaboration and coordination.
This is the second Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province and the 11th overall in the DRC, which recently defeated the disease in its volatile eastern region after a two-year battle.
This latest western outbreak first surfaced in the city of Mbandaka, home to more than one million people, and subsequently spread to 11 health zones, with active transmission currently occurring in eight.
The outbreak in Equateur Province emerged in early June and has now spread into another of its 17 health zones.
More than 90 experts are in Equateur, and additional staff have recently been deployed from the capital, including experts in epidemiology, vaccination, community engagement, infection prevention and control, laboratory and treatment.
Nearly one million travellers have been screened, which helped identify some 72 suspected Ebola cases, thus reducing further spread.
However, the UN agency warned that response is “grossly underfunded”. WHO has provided some $2.3 million in support so far, and has urged donors to back a $40 million plan by the Congolese government.
This latest Ebola outbreak is unfolding amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Friday, there were more than 10,300 cases and 260 deaths across the vast African nation.
While there are several similarities in addressing the two diseases, such as the need to identify and test contacts, isolate cases, and promote effective prevention measures, Ms. Chaib stressed that without extra funding, it will be even harder to defeat Ebola.