GOMA – The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has announced that preliminary laboratory results indicate a cluster of cases of Ebola virus in North Kivu province.
The announcement on Wednesday was issued a week after DR Congo’s Ministry of Health declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province in the far western part of the country, some 2,500 kms from North Kivu.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier declared that DR Congo Ebola free.
Now the country’s Ministry of Health has informed WHO that four out of six samples tested positive for Ebola virus at the Institute National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa. Further testing is on-going.
“Ebola is a constant threat in DR Congo,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“What adds to our confidence in the country’s ability to respond is the transparency they have displayed once again. Working closely with the Ministry of Health and partners, we will fight this one as we did the last.”
The government was quick to provide public updates, with press releases on 30 July and 1 August.
“Since we are coming out of another Ebola outbreak, we have kept staff and equipment in place,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “This allows us to have a head start in response to this cluster.”
The majority of the cases are in the Mangina health area which is 30 kilometres from the city of Beni.
“This new cluster is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were operating in the northwest,” said Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response.
“This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population.”
North Kivu hosts over 1 million displaced people. The province shares borders with Uganda and Rwanda with a great deal of crossborder movement due to the trade activities. WHO will continue to work with neighbouring countries to ensure health authorities are alerted and prepared to respond.