The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Wednesday officially declared the end of its 11th Ebola outbreak, nearly six months after the first cases of the deadly virus were reported.
The DRC’s Health Minister, Dr. Eteni Longondo, made the official declaration along with the World Health Organization after no new cases were reported in more than 48 days, reported the UN News. More than 55 deaths, 119 confirmed cases, 11 probable cases, and 75 recoveries were recorded since the outbreak began earlier this year.
“It wasn’t easy, but we’ve done it!” tweeted Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa.
The outbreak started on June 1 in the DRC’s western Equateur Province alongside another outbreak that was winding down in the country’s east. The eastern outbreak was the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak on record and was officially declared over on June 25. The two outbreaks were geographically far apart and unrelated as per genetic sequencing analysis.
The challenge of containing the Ebola disease was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by the spread of cases in remote areas in dense rain forests.
“Overcoming one of the world’s most dangerous pathogens in remote and hard-to-access communities demonstrates what is possible when science and solidarity come together,” said Moeti.
The WHO official said that some lessons learned from the effort against Ebola would be useful against the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa. Notably, the Ebola vaccine needs to be kept at super-cold temperatures to keep it from spoiling.
Moeti said that the technology used to keep the Ebola vaccine at extremely cold temperatures will be helpful when bringing a Covid-19 vaccine to Africa. He added that much of the expertise used to tackle one disease is transferable to another and underlines the importance of investing in emergency preparedness and building local capacity.