Congo declares end to latest Ebola outbreak in nation’s east

FILE – In this file photo, health workers wearing protective suits tend to an Ebola victim kept in an isolation cube in Beni, Congo. According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, an African man who developed Ebola despite receiving a vaccine recovered, but he suffered a relapse nearly six months later that led to 91 new cases before he died. The report adds to evidence that the deadly virus can lurk in the body long after symptoms end, and that survivors need monitoring for their own welfare and to prevent spread. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

KINSHASA, Congo — Congo has declared an end to the latest Ebola outbreak that killed six people in its east.

Congo’s Minister of Public Health, Dr. Jean-Jacques Mbungani on Monday announced the end of the outbreak that began Feb. 7 in the town of Butembo in the North Kivu province.

The World Health Organization also confirmed the end to the outbreak, congratulating Congo on combatting it within three months. There were 12 cases of Ebola, with six deaths and six recoveries in four health zones in the North Kivu province, according to WHO. The last two patients had been discharged from the Ebola Treatment Center of Katwa in Butembo on March 24.

This was the 12th Ebola outbreak in conflict-ridden Congo since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976, and the third to hit the country in less than a year. Its onset came less than three months after Congo’s 11th outbreak in the western province of Equateur officially ended in November.

A 2018 outbreak in Eastern Congo was the second deadliest in the world, killing 2,299 people before it was ended in June. That outbreak lasted for nearly two years and was fought amid unprecedented challenges, including entrenched conflict between armed groups, the world’s largest measles epidemic, and the spread of COVID-19.