By Joyce Ojanji

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared the end of the Ebola outbreak that erupted less than three months ago in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province in the northwest.

It was the third outbreak in the province since 2018 and 14th overall in the country since 1976. The outbreak claimed lives of five people, one probable case and four confirmed cases.

National emergency teams in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) implemented measures including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention and control to curb the spread of the infection.

They later on introduced vaccination as a major remedy which resulted in 2104 people being immunized against Ebola including 302 contacts and 1307 frontline workers.

“Thanks to the robust response by the national authorities, this outbreak has been brought to an end swiftly with limited transmission of the virus,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response.”

Dr. Moeti observed that there is an increase in Ebola and other infectious diseases that  jump from animals to humans impacting large urban areas in Africa and called for the need to be more vigilant to ensure cases are caught quickly.

“This outbreak response shows that by bolstering preparedness, disease surveillance and swift detection, we can stay a step ahead,” she said.

Ebola, which affects humans and other primates, is severe and often fatal. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks. However, with the currently available effective treatment, patients have a significantly higher chance of survival if they are treated early and given supportive care.