DR Congo Health Minister Reports New Ebola Outbreak

June 1, 2020 Updated: June 1, 2020

The Democratic Republic of Congo on June 1 reported a new Ebola outbreak in the northwestern portion of the country over the weekend.

Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million along the Congo River, is the scene of the outbreak. Six cases have been detected there, Congo officials told the World Health Organization (WHO); four people have died.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo said at a press briefing that samples from the city tested positive for Ebola, according to the AFP news agency.

“We will send them the vaccine and medicine very quickly,” he said, adding that he plans to visit the site.

“This is a province that has already experienced the disease. They know how to respond. They started the response at the local level yesterday [May 31],” Longondo said. Thirty-three people died when the area was hit by Ebola between May and July of 2018.

The WHO said it was already on the ground in Mbandaka to support the response, including the tracing of contacts who may have been exposed to Ebola. It’s sending more personnel and supplies to assist the government.

“Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighboring countries, we must act quickly,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement.

Bobo Boloko Bolumbu, governor of Equateur Province, urged residents to stay calm and “respect hygiene measures,” the Independent reported.

“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,” he said.

A long, difficult Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo began on Aug. 1, 2018, according to WHO. It has spread to more than 3,400 people, killing 2,243.

While the outbreak “is in its final stages,” the group said, “new outbreaks of Ebola are expected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, given the existence of the virus in an animal reservoir in many parts of the country.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.