Ebola panic: Deadly virus outbreak sparks panic after 50 deaths and 124 new cases

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The country has been praised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic this year, with cases in Africa lower than in Europe, the US or Asia. But other deadly infectious diseases have not been as easy to contain over recent years, including Ebola, which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa in 2013-16. Now the disease is now becoming a growing threat in the Congo again, according to the International Rescue Committee.

They said: “We are alarmed that the new outbreak continues to take the lives of the people of DRC at a high rate, with more than 40 percent of the 124 people infected dying from the disease.

“The impact of this outbreak is compounded by the complex logistical challenges in the rural areas around Mbandaka, and a challenging situation in DRC as communities struggle to recover from years of poor health infrastructure, a previous Ebola outbreak in 2018 in the same area, and now the COVID pandemic, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 270 people in the country.

“With a recent Ebola case on the border with the Republic of Congo, this outbreak could spread across international borders.”

Last month, World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the outbreak a “worrying” development.

He added the WHO has around 100 staff in the Congo working with the Ministry of Health, nongovernmental agencies, and people in communities to tackle the outbreak.

Dr Tedros added $2.5 million has been issued in emergency response funds to support the growing crisis.

He added the outbreak was “one of the most difficult Ebola outbreaks the world has ever faced”.

Dr Tedros said: “It is a matter of global health security.

“Whether it’s COVID-19, Ebola or other high impact epidemics, we must be prepared, we need to be on high alert and we need to respond quickly.”

The WHO also warned earlier this year Ebola could spread across borders in Africa.

At the start of September, Bomongo was the latest area affected by Ebola.

This is located between the Ubangi and Congo rivers and was the second region to be affected that borders the Republic of the Congo.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib warned other countries were at risk too – especially Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province.

She said: “The population is also very highly mobile.

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“Mbandaka, for example, is a strategic hub on the Congo River, and there is the fear and stigma surrounding the disease.

“As it is a trading hub, WHO is helping also to screen travellers.”

Ms Chaib added the disease could spread along the rivers in the region.

She said: “This makes cross-border collaboration between the DRC and Congo more important than ever and will require coordination on disease surveillance and efforts to screen travellers,”

Back in May, the WHO also warned 190,000 people in Africa could die from coronavirus.

The continent has so far recorded 1,210,251 cases with the confirmed coronavirus death rate at 35,459,

Hospitals in many African countries say COVID-19 admission rates are falling.

Rashida Ferrand, a professor working at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, said: “Based on what we have seen so far it is unlikely that we are going to see anything at the scale that we are seeing in Europe – both in terms of infections and mortality.

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