Congo declares end of latest Ebola outbreak in east

KINSHASA — The Democratic Republic of Congo has declared the end of the latest Ebola virus outbreak in eastern North Kivu province, Health Minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani Mbanda said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 15th outbreak in the Central African country occurred on 22 August when a new case of the deadly virus was confirmed in the eastern city of Beni.

Laboratory tests showed that the case was genetically linked to an epidemic in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in 2018-2020 that killed nearly 2,300 people.

Another flare-up from that outbreak killed six people last year.

“After 42 days of intensified surveillance, there are no new confirmed cases…We are pleased to solemnly declare the end of the 15th. [Ebola] The epidemic…it lasted for a month and 12 days,” said Mbungani Mbanda.

Congo’s dense rainforests are the natural host for the Ebola virus, which causes fever, body aches and diarrhea.

Since 1976, 14 outbreaks have been recorded in the country. From 2018 to 2020, the eastern outbreak was the largest and second-largest on record in the Congo, with a total of nearly 3,500 cases.

The most recent outbreak in Congo occurred in northwestern Equateur Province. The end was declared in July after five people died.