Health workers in Democratic Republic of Congo were optimistic about the Ebola outbreak on Tuesday as they celebrated the hospital discharge of Masiko, a woman who is the last known Ebola patient in the country.
She was released from a treatment center in Beni, at the epicenter of an Ebola outbreak that began in August 2018 in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. This (hopefully) final victory over Ebola was equally hard-won by local leaders, Congolese authorities, NGOs and others who have battled the virus since then, with 172 health care workers contracting Ebola themselves.
“With no more confirmed cases, a 42-day countdown to declaring the end of the world’s second-deadliest Ebola epidemic began on 2 March,” said the World Health Organization in its statement. They cautioned that they are still following 46 people who were in contact with Masiko, though it has been two weeks since they were notified of any possible new cases.
“All the aspects of the Ebola response remain in place to ensure that any new cases are detected quickly and treated,” stressed WHO. “The end of the outbreak can only be ascertained when no infections arise 42 days after the last reported case has tested negative.”
Dr, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO director for Africa, said it is not yet the end of the outbreak, which follows only the West African outbreak in 2014 in its severity.
The DR Congo’s Ebola outbreak brought 3,444 confirmed and probable cases, and 2,264 fatalities, 474 of them in Beni. The community, which was rocked by armed-group attacks and violence during the outbreak, was second only to Katwa where 495 people died.
“We must stay vigilant in the coming weeks and beyond,” Moeti said.