3 Die as WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak in Republic of Congo

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Barely a year after some West African countries heaved a sigh of relief from deadly Ebola virus outbreak that claimed many lives and drained affected countries of resources, another outbreak of the virus has been reported in the Republic of Congo by the World Health Organisation.

So far, three fatalities have been reported and was said to have contracted the virus in the north east of the country. The country’s health ministry was reported to have notified the world health body after laboratory tests confirmed it.

Unlike in the past when vaccines for the virus were not ready, it was reported by some online media that over 300,000 doses of the vaccine were ready from different manufacturers in case of an outbreak.

Statistics from health bodies put the number of deaths from the last Ebola outbreak in West Africa at 11,000  in 2014-2015, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The last outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was in 2014 and killed more than 40 people.

Of the nine people suspected to have contracted the deadly virus, three died, with one case of Ebola confirmed through tests at the national laboratory in the capital Kinshasa, WHO Congo representative Allarangar Yokouide said in a statement.

“People began to get sick on or after 22 April in Bas-Uele province in the country’s far north, he added.

“The region affected lies 1,300km (800 miles) north-east of Kinshasa, close to the border with the Central African Republic.

“It is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. But we always take this very seriously,” WHO Congo spokesman Eric Kabambi told foreign news agencies.

The WHO described the outbreak as “a public health crisis of international importance”.

It said the first teams of experts, including epidemiologists, biologists and hygiene specialists had been dispatched and were due to arrive in the affected region by Friday or Saturday.

Though the outbreak is worrisome, records have it that the country has stamped out more Ebola outbreaks than any other place on earth. It is well practiced in fighting the deadly virus.

Ebola was first identified in DR Congo (then Zaire) in 1976. Since then, there have been at least nine outbreaks in the country. The last was in 2014, when – at the same time – parts of West Africa were fighting a separate outbreak, the worst in history.

DR Congo was able to bring an end to its epidemic within four months. In West Africa, which had never experienced an Ebola outbreak before, it took two years.