Second Ebola death confirmed in DR Congo

A second Ebola patient has died in the Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo days after a fresh outbreak emerged in the city of Mbandaka in Equateur province.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the second fatality was a female relative of the first case.

“It was difficult for the response team to trace her because she ran away from the team on the ground to a prayer meeting,”Dr Gervais Folefack told the BBC in a phone interview.

“By the time the team got to her, it was already too late. She died before receiving any treatment. Both of them were buried in line with safety guidelines,” he added.

On Mondayhealth authorities said more than 100 people had been identified as possible contacts, and a vaccine was expected to be rolled out this week.

DR Congo has seen 13 previous Ebola outbreaks, including one that ended two years ago which caused more than 2,000 deaths.

Samples analysed at the main laboratory in Kinshasa showed that the new outbreak was not linked to previous ones.

Investigations were ongoing to determine the source of the new outbreak.

Some 1,300 vaccines were scheduled to be flown from Goma, in the eastern part of the country, to Mbandaka. The vaccination exercise would begin on Wednesday.

The Ebola virus has reared its head again, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While it was impossible to predict exactly where and when the next outbreak would occur, we now know much more about how to prevent a crisis.

The news of an Ebola outbreak in the town of Bikoro in north-west of DR Congo instantly brings to mind the horror of the epidemic that took 11,000 lives and infected 28,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

It is a nightmare no-one wants to relive – or should have to.

Since April 4 in DR Congo, there have been more than 30 possible cases – involving 18 deaths – although only two incidents have so far been confirmed as Ebola.

So why does Ebola keep coming back and what work is being done to prevent a repeat of the tragedy in West Africa?

Ebola can spread rapidly through contact with even small amounts of bodily fluids of those infected. Its early flu-like symptoms are not always obvious. -BBC

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