WHO says Ebola virus in DRC is new, not related to recent outbreaks
The strain of Ebola virus that’s active in a new outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo is not related to the previous two outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization.
“Genetic sequencing from new Ebola cases in Équateur DRC shows that the outbreak is not linked to North Kivu or to the 2018 Équateur outbreak,’ said WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday.
“Investigations are ongoing to understand source, but it is likely a new introduction from an animal reservoir.”
The cases in Mbandaka, a Congo River community near the border with Congo Brazzaville, were first announced a week ago. This new outbreak began with a 27-year-old woman, who died along with at least three others in a cluster of cases that authorities suspected were distinct from the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Ituri and Kivu provinces.
“I think if we look at the distance, the difficulties in travel, and we look also at the fact that this took place now in the context of somewhat of a lockdown, we think it’s highly unlikely that it’s the same outbreak,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa.
At the same time, this new cluster is near transport routes and borders and requires a rapid response, Moeti said. UNICEF, World Food Program and other partners are working to control the outbreak as quickly as possible.
The United Nations has announced an additional US$40 million in aid from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to assist Kinshasa in its Ebola fight, which comes amid a global COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed 88 lives in DR Congo.