A new outbreak of Ebola is happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a new report from the World Health Organization.
New Ebola outbreak in the Congo, says WHO
The Congo's government announced today a new outbreak of the Ebola virus in Wangata health zone, Mbandaka, in the Équateur province. This comes on the heels of a long and difficult struggle to face down a complex Ebola outbreak in eastern regions of the country began its final phase — to say nothing of the ongoing fight to contain the impact made by the COVID-19 illness at the site of the world's largest measles outbreak.
Early reports from the Congo's Ministry of Health say six Ebola cases were detected in Wangata as of writing, four of which resulted in death, with two still alive and under intensive care. Three of the six identified cases were confirmed via laboratory testing, and experts expect more cases to surface as surveillance measures taken against the Ebola virus activate.
"This is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face," said the WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reports the WHO. "Although much of our attention is on the pandemic, WHO is continuing to monitor and respond to many other health emergencies."
UPDATE June 1, 4:00 PM EDT: The Congo health officials advise locals via radio
"The laboratory has given us the information that all the deaths analyzed since the 18th of May are a consequence of the Ebola virus," said Province Governor Bobo Boloko Bolumbu on local radio on Monday, reportsThe Telegraph.
Bolumbu added that samples were subsequently sent for more tests to the country's national medical research organization.
"I ask the population to be calm and to continue to respect hygiene measures," said Bolumbu, reportsThe Telegraph. "Regularly wash your hands with soap. Don't, say, greet with your hands. Don't touch ill or dead people who had a fever or bleeding."
UPDATE June 1, 4:20 PM EDT: New infected areas 'unrelated' to earlier Ebola outbreak
In the Ituri and North Kivu regions 600 miles away, a much larger Ebola outbreak continues to claim lives. More than 2,200 have died since it was first confirmed in 2018. The new cases, however, are considered unrelated to the earlier and larger outbreak, which makes this the Congo's 11th Ebola outbreak.
As the world comes to grips in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, we should expect other viruses with the dangerous potential to show an advance as the world's medical and emergency efforts are distracted by the global pandemic.