A new case of Ebola was confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just as health agencies were preparing to celebrate the end of the disease in the region, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday. File Photo by Hugh Kinsella Cunningham/EPA-EFE
April 10 (UPI) -- The Democratic Republic of the Congo's Emergency Committee reported a new case of Ebola fever Friday just as the nation was preparing to celebrate the end of a two-year fight against the virus, authorities said.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that Ebola had re-emerged after the country had 52 days without a case.
"Unfortunately, this means the government of DRC will not be able to declare an end to the Ebola outbreak on Monday, as hoped," Tedros said, as reported by Russia's state-run Tass news agency. "But WHO remains on the ground and committed as ever to working with the government, affected communities and our partners to end the outbreak."
The case was reported in the town of Beni, where the non-profit International Rescue Committee has been working since 2018 to address the infectious disease outbreak in the regions in North Kivu and Ituri, the organization said.
"This is a devastating development for the communities in eastern DRC who are also under threat from the corona virus outbreak, in addition to ongoing conflict and displacement," said Kate Moger, the group's regional vice president of the Great Lakes.
"This is now a triple emergency: vulnerable populations facing ongoing humanitarian crises, the spread of COVID-19 and now again potentially a re-emerging Ebola crisis."
WHO declared the DRC's Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in July when officials confirmed a case in Goma, a city near the Rwanda border. The outbreak killed 2,264 of the 3,453 people infected, WHO reported.
Since 2018, more than 300,000 people in the region have been inoculated with two experimental vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Johnson & Johnson. The vaccines currently are in clinical study phases, according to the DRC's National Institute of Biomedical Research.
"The vaccines helped turn the tide for us. They have been very effective. But our work is far from over," Jean-Jacques Muyembe, head of the DRC's Ebola response told AlJazeera.
The Ebola announcement came as the WHO warned COVID-19 would likely quickly spread in poorer and remote areas of rural Africa. More than 16 African countries have reported cases and community spread, the organization's chief said.
Poverty and lack of healthcare resources will likely produce "severe hardship," Tedros said.
A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo