from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – IT is feared the latest Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could be the most devastating ever in the country.
This as the virus erupts in the backdrop of COVID-19, increasing violence and food insecurity.
At least four people have been confirmed dead following the outbreak in the North Kivu.
The area is still reeling from the last outbreak that was declared over in May.
The last major outbreak lasting from 2018-2020 killed more than 2 200 people, almost 66 percent of those who presented with the virus.
It was the second most severe Ebola outbreak in history, after the West Africa eruption that left 11 323 people dead between 2013 and 2016.
That response was extremely challenging due to ongoing conflict by armed groups.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is worried beating Ebola in North Kivu now would be doubly complicated given the impact of COVID-19.
“Another outbreak in North Kivu could be disastrous if not quickly contained,” Kate Moger, Regional Vice President for the Great Lakes at the IRC, said.
“People in this area have faced decades of violence by armed groups and have now, between Ebola and COVID-19, been faced with disease outbreaks for almost three straight years.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is pinning its hopes on an Ebola vaccination campaign that started this week.
People at high risk, including contacts of the confirmed case and first responders will receive the doses as health authorities move to curb the spread of the virus.
About 1 000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine and other medical supplies have been delivered from the capital, Kinshasa, to Goma city in North Kivu.
Around 200 doses have been sent onward to Beni city.
More than 12 000 vaccine doses in Kinshasa can be deployed if necessary.
“The DRC is spearheading the efforts to halt this latest Ebola resurgence, banking on expertise built in responding to previous outbreaks,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa Director, said.
– CAJ News