On Monday, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced discoveries of the Ebola virus in its northwestern region. The findings have increased health emergency with the already problematic coronavirus pandemic.
In Mbandaka, which is home to approximately one million citizens, has reported the death of five people and hospitalization of another four due to the Ebola infection. The reports came from Unicef, who has an office located in the city that sits on the Congo River.
A returning outbreak
According to the Wall Street Journal, officials have not yet confirmed if the cases are related to the outbreak of hemorrhagic fever that Eastern Congo is currently facing. The city was the worst-stricken area of the Ebola outbreak in May 2018 which suggests that the new cases recorded there is a new type of animal-to-human transmission.
The Ebola infection can be transmitted by physical contact with animal bodily fluids that carry the virus. Director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, said that "This is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face."
The new cases mark the 11th outbreak of the Ebola since its discovery within the country in 1976. The location of the DRC that surrounded the city of Mbandaka was where the 9th Ebola outbreak in July 2018.
WHO Regional Director of Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said that the crisis has come at a difficult time but reassured that the health organization has been working with health authorities, Africa CDC, and other partners over the last two years to increase the capability of the country in responding to outbreaks, as reported by the WHO.
"With each experience, we respond faster and more effectively," said Moeti.
The five casualties of the Ebola include one 15-year-old girl, said Unicef, and that two other patients were brought to the isolation unit in a local hospital.
The severity of the infection
According to The New York Times, the Ebola infection can cause fever, bleeding, physical weakness, and pain in the abdomen. The virus kills about half of all those that it infects and was named after the Ebola River where it was first identified.
The new Ebola cases in Mbandaka is what health officials are most concerned with as the city is a central point for travel to the country's capital, Kinshasa which is home to more than 12 million residents.
The head of the Ministry of Public Health in the DRC, Eteni Longondo, said his ministry deployed doses of a new vaccine against the Ebola to the city of Mbadanka and reassured that local officials know how to act accordingly to the threat that the Ebola virus brings as they learned from the 2018 outbreak.
The previous disaster saw the death of 33 people and the recovery of 21 people while fears of the outbreak spreading throughout the entire country was avoided.
Learning from previous events, researchers, along with health workers, have been able to make fantastic progress in fighting back against the Ebola, which kills nearly two-thirds of the infected patients.
Merck & Co. developed a new vaccine which the US Food and Drug Administration has approved. Johnson & Johnson also developed a second vaccine that is expected to be approved soon in Europe.