Brazzaville/Kinshasa, 3 May 2021 – Today marks the end of the 12th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just three months after the first case was reported in North Kivu. The Ebola outbreak that re-emerged in February came nine months after another outbreak in the same province was declared over.
The World Health Organization (WHO) congratulates the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s health authorities and the heath workers on the ground for their swift response which built on the country’s previous experience in tackling Ebola outbreaks. This outbreak is the country’s fourth in less than three years.
Eleven confirmed cases and one probable case, six deaths and six recoveries were recorded in four health zones in North Kivu since 7 February when the Ministry of Health announced the resurgence of Ebola in Butembo, a city in North Kivu Province and one of the hotspots of the 2018–2020 outbreak. Results from genome sequencing conducted by the country’s National Institute of Biomedical Research found that the first Ebola case detected in the outbreak was linked to the previous outbreak, but the source of infection is yet to be determined.
“Huge credit must be given to the local health workers and the national authorities for their prompt response, tenacity, experience and hard work that brought this outbreak under control,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Direct for Africa. “Although the outbreak has ended, we must stay alert for possible resurgence and at the same time use the growing expertise on emergency response to address other health threats the country faces.”
The response was coordinated by the Provincial Department of Health in collaboration with WHO and partners. WHO had nearly 60 experts on the ground and as soon as the outbreak was declared helped local workers to trace contacts, provide treatment, engage communities and vaccinate nearly 2000 people at high risk, including over 500 frontline workers.
The response was often hampered by insecurity caused by armed groups and social disturbances which at times limited the movement of responders. The area where the outbreak took place is one where the population is highly mobile as people move to conduct business or visit family and friends. Butembo city is about 150 km from the Uganda border and there were concerns over the potential cross-border spread of the outbreak. However, due to the effective response the outbreak stayed limited to North Kivu province.
While the 12th outbreak is over, there is a need for continued vigilance and maintaining a strong surveillance system as potential flare-ups are possible in the months to come. It is important to continue with sustained disease surveillance, monitoring of alerts and working with communities to detect and respond rapidly to any new cases and WHO will continue to assist health authorities with their efforts to contain quickly a sudden re-emergence of Ebola.
WHO continues to work with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fight other public health problems such as outbreaks of measles and cholera, the COVID-19 pandemic and a weak health system.
The 2018–2020 outbreak was the 10th in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the country’s deadliest, with 3481 cases, 2299 deaths and 1162 survivors. The country also experienced its 11th outbreak which took place in Equateur Province last year.
Currently there is an ongoing Ebola outbreak in Guinea, which began in February of this year.
Between 12 and 14 April, 36 people wounded north of Goma were admitted to Bethesda Hospital, bringing the total number hospitalized there to 68.
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, April 20, 2021 – Following recent demonstrations and other violence around North Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 120 wounded people are being treated at Beni General Referral Hospital and Bethesda Hospital in Goma (also known as CBCA Ndosho Hospital) with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has also provided medical supplies to other facilities treating the wounded.
On 14 April 2021, medical teams supported by the ICRC were treating 51 wounded people at Beni General Referral Hospital, including nine admitted in connection with the recent demonstrations. Another six people wounded in other demonstrations were being treated in Butembo and Oicha, outside Beni. Between 12 and 14 April, 36 people wounded north of Goma were admitted to Bethesda Hospital, bringing the total number hospitalized there to 68.
“Currently almost all 74 beds at Bethesda Hospital are occupied, and all 43 beds at Beni General Referral Hospital are occupied,” said Kelnor Panglungtshang, head of the ICRC’s subdelegation in Goma. “Our teams have been mobilized for more than a week to help hospitals cope with the influx. We’ve also provided medical supplies and medicines to help hospitals, including the Congolese National Police Hospital, cope with the growing number of patients.”
The ICRC is also monitoring whether medical personnel are being allowed to carry out their activities unhindered. Medical workers, facilities and transport must be respected and protected, and all necessary measures must be taken to ensure that the wounded and sick have safe and timely access to proper care. All of this is critical in situations of violence.
In addition, the ICRC has heard reports of children losing contact with their families during the recent violence north of Goma. The organization is in contact with the local Red Cross to assess whether and how it might be able to help.
The ICRC has been helping to protect and assist victims of armed conflict and other violence in North Kivu since 1993. It provides support to several medical facilities that stabilize and treat people wounded in the violence. Those most seriously injured are transferred to Bethesda Hospital in Goma, where the ICRC has set up a war surgery programme.