The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Friday, October 8, 2021 announced that a new case of Ebola has been detected in the health zone of Butsili in North Kivu Province, where a previous outbreak was declared over May 3, 2021.
The Goma branch of the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) confirmed Ebola in samples taken from a young child who died after suffering from Ebola-like symptoms on October 6.
Butsili is close to Beni, a town which was one of the epicentres of the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC and about 50 km from Butembo city which experienced a new Ebola outbreak earlier this year. It is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following a major outbreak, but it is too soon to say whether this case is related to the previous outbreaks. The city of Beni is a commercial hub with links to the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda.
“WHO is supporting health authorities to investigate the new Ebola case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “North Kivu has been battered by Ebola outbreaks during the past few years, but this has built up local expertise and community awareness, paving the way for a fast-moving response.”
The North Kivu Provincial health authorities are reportedly leading the current response with support from the Ministry of Health and WHO. During the previous outbreaks in North Kivu, WHO helped build the capacity of local laboratory technicians, contact tracers, vaccination teams and reached out to community groups to raise Ebola awareness, as well as put in place an Ebola survivor programme.
The DRC’s 10th Ebola outbreak which lasted for nearly two years was the second largest in the world and by the time it ended there were 3,481 cases, 2,299 deaths and 1,162 survivors. The country’s 12th Ebola outbreak which occurred in and around Butembo was over after three months with 11 confirmed cases, one probable case and six deaths.