DRC sees 10 new cases of Ebola in 3 days

Ebola Sensitization
Ebola Sensitizatoin

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After recording only a handful of cases in the past 10 days, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) confirmed 10 new cases of Ebola over the weekend, including 4 today. Twelve more people have also died from the virus.

In other developments, the DRC and nine of its neighbors at a meeting in Goma today agreed on a joint framework to work together on preparedness and response to Ebola and other disease outbreaks.

New cases from current hot spots

According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Ebola dashboard, the new cases raise the case count to 3,243, including 2,169 deaths. Officials are investigating 426 suspected cases.

Over the weekend, the DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) provided the locations of recent cases, which included one case each in Mambasa and Mabalako, and four cases in Mandima.

At least three of the recent deaths took place in the community in Mandima. Community deaths, as opposed to those that take place within Ebola treatment centers or hospitals, raise the risk of Ebola transmission.

Last week, the WHO said the outbreak was still a PHEIC (public health emergency of international concern), despite recent signs the 14-month-long outbreak in eastern DRC was on the retreat.

Last week, the Butembo Ebola treatment center was cleared of patients, and some health zones in Ituri, North and South Kivu provinces have gone 42 days (two Ebola transmission cycles) without any new cases.

"This remains a dangerous and complex outbreak. We need the full force of our partners to bring the outbreak under control," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, PhD, said during a press conference on the PHEIC extension.

The disease hotspots have also migrated from bigger regional cities to more rural, remote areas. Earlier this month, Mike Ryan, MD, the WHO's executive director of health emergencies, said the rural location of the virus would mean new transmission chains could slowly but steadily produce new cases for the foreseeable future.

The CMRE said over the weekend a campaign to vaccinate taxi motorcyclists throughout the outbreak region is still ongoing. As of yesterday, a total of 240,494 people in the DRC had been vaccinated against the virus with Merck's rVSV-ZEBOV.

Cross-border collaboration framework

The event in Goma today was organized by the DRC, the WHO, and the African Union Commission. It was attended by health ministers and senior officials from Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

According to a WHO press release, representatives are concerned about the DRC's continuing outbreak and the threat it poses to the health and economies of other countries in the region.

The member states agreed to strengthen mechanisms for the timely and accurate information on Ebola preparedness and response and other health security risks. And they noted that withholding or falsifying information on Ebola violated International Health Regulations.

Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, the WHO's regional director for Africa, said in the statement, "Information sharing is improving, but we need to bring it to an acceptable level. We need countries to openly share information necessary to save lives. Our mission is to establish cross-border collaboration that will cover all outbreaks and all public health emergencies."

Besides agreeing on a road map for collaboration, the group also endorsed the establishment of a task force on Ebola and other disease outbreaks, which will be hosted at African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The framework didn't contain any funding commitments for emergency response or preparedness, but the WHO and the African Union encouraged countries to invest more in the areas.

See also:

WHO Ebola dashboard

Oct 19 CMRE update

Oct 20 CMRE update

Oct 10 CIDRAP news story "WHO: Ebola outbreak 'back to where it began'"

Oct 18 CIDRAP news story "WHO advisors extend Ebola emergency; European regulators conditionally approve vaccine"

Oct 21 WHO African regional office press release

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