发信人: umner (jhq), 信区: Military
标 题: New Ebola Cases Found in Congo
发信站: BBS 未名空间站 (Mon Jun 1 12:29:43 2020, 美东)
New Ebola Cases Found in Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s health ministry reported a fresh cluster
of Ebola infections in the country’s northwest
By Gabriele Steinhauser
Updated June 1, 2020
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s health ministry on Monday reported a
fresh cluster of Ebola infections in the country’s northwest, exacerbating
a health emergency that already includes another lingering outbreak of the
virus and rising cases of Covid-19.
At least four people have died from Ebola in Mbandaka, a city of around one
million that sits on the Congo River, said Health Minister Eteni Longondo.
Officials have yet to confirm whether the cases are related to an outbreak
of the hemorrhagic fever in Eastern Congo, more than 1,000 miles from
But the city was at the center of an earlier Ebola outbreak in May 2018,
suggesting that the cases there may be the result of a new instance of
animal-to-human transmission of the virus. Humans can get Ebola by coming in
contact with the bodily fluids of an infected animal.
The outbreak in Mbandaka is a setback for Congolese and international health
workers, who have been trying since August 2018 to stem an Ebola outbreak
in the country’s restive east. That outbreak has killed at least 2,280
people and infected more than 3,400.
The country, one of the world’s poorest, also is battling to keep the new
coronavirus at bay. Congo has 3,195 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including
72 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s global tally, although
testing has been limited.
Health officials are particularly concerned about the new Ebola cases in
Mbandaka, because the city is a hub for travel to Congo’s capital, Kinshasa
—a metropolis of some 12 million—as well as neighboring countries. The
city is just miles from Congo’s border with the Republic of Congo.
Residents also travel to the war-torn Central African Republic, whose health
system is even weaker than that of the DRC.
Mr. Longondo said that his ministry was dispatching doses of a new Ebola
vaccine to Mbandaka and that local authorities know how to respond to the
virus thanks to the 2018 outbreak. During that outbreak, 33 people died and
21 recovered while fears that the virus would spread to other parts of the
country or abroad didn’t come to pass.
Since then, researchers and health workers have made great progress in
fighting Ebola, which has on average killed two-thirds of those infected. A
vaccine developed by Merck & Co., which was tested during the earlier
Mbandaka Ebola outbreak, has been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug
Administration and a second one, by Johnson & Johnson, is nearing approval
In addition, two experimental treatments have been shown to significantly
reduce the death rate among Ebola patients. Among the patients who got one
of the two drugs in a trial conducted during the outbreak in Eastern Congo
last year, nearly two-thirds survived. Of those who sought treatment soon
after developing symptoms, even fewer died.
Despite these advancements, medical workers, including from the World Health
Organization and nonprofits such as Doctors Without Borders, have struggled
to contain the outbreak in Eastern Congo, a mineral-rich region tormented
by dozens of militias. Health workers and burial teams have been attacked by
rebels and many locals have questioned whether the virus is real.
In April, the WHO was days away from declaring the outbreak over, only to
discover a fresh cluster in the town of Beni. Authorities were halfway
through the 42 days—two incubation periods—they need to pass since their
last confirmed patient.
Write to Gabriele Steinhauser at [email protected]
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