The Congolese Minister of Public Health, Hygiene and Prevention, Jean-Jacques Mbungani declared this Monday, July 04, the end of the Ebola epidemic which broke out less than three months ago in Mbandaka, capital of the Equateur province. It was the third outbreak in the province since 2018 and the 14th overall in the country.
With greater experience in the fight against Ebola, national emergency teams, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, mounted a rapid response shortly after the declaration of the outbreak on April 23, deploying key countermeasures, including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, treatment, and community engagement. Vaccination, a crucial protective measure, was launched just four days after the declaration of the epidemic.
In total, there have been four confirmed cases and one probable case all of whom have died. In the previous outbreak in Equateur Province which lasted from June to November 2020, there were 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths.
“Thanks to the robust response of national authorities, this outbreak has come to an end quickly with limited transmission of the virus,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Critical lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and applied to design and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response,” she added.
The outbreak that just ended saw a total of 2,104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1,307 frontline workers.
To facilitate the deployment of vaccination, an ultra-cold chain freezer was installed in Mbandaka which allowed vaccine doses to be stored locally and safely and delivered efficiently.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has now recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, including six since 2018.
Although the outbreak in Mbandaka has been declared over, health authorities are maintaining surveillance and are ready to respond quickly to any outbreak. It is not uncommon for sporadic cases to occur after an outbreak.