Ebola outbreak indicators show promising signs of decline, but it's too soon to tell if the pattern will persist, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its weekly overview of developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Meanwhile, 14 new confirmed cases were reported today, lifting the outbreak's overall total to 3,113, according to numbers reflected on the WHO's online Ebola dashboard.
Transmission cools in Beni, Mandima hot spots
The WHO said 40 newly confirmed cases were reported in the DRC's North Kivu and Ituri provinces, the lowest since March. Though the signs are promising, emerging hot spots still pose challenges in accessibility, insecurity, and violence. "Surveillance indicators highlight that public health risks of further spread remain very high," the WHO said.
Over the past 3 weeks, most cases have come from Kalunguta, Beni, Mambasa, and Mandima. Early signs of easing include a decrease in newly confirmed cases in Beni and Mandima, but it's too soon to know if the changes mark a decrease in transmission intensity.
Several outbreak dynamics are still in play that increase the likelihood of more transmission chains in affected communities, the WHO said. They include a high proportion of community deaths, a relatively low proportion of new cases coming from known contact lists, transmission chains linked to hospital spread, and delays in detecting and isolating sick patients.
Another promising sign is that Alimbongo, Oicha, and Pinga health zones have passed 21 days without any new confirmed cases.
Fourteen new cases today
Today's report of 14 new cases is the first double-digit increase since Sep 6. Health officials are still investigating 445 suspected Ebola cases, according to the WHO's dashboard.
Four more people died from their infections, putting the outbreak's fatality count at 2,077.
Meanwhile, the DRC's multisector Ebola response committee (CMRE) in its report today had a few more details about the eight new cases reported yesterday. Three were in Kalunguta, three in Komanda, and two in Mandima.
Of three deaths reported yesterday, one occurred in the community in Mandima and two occurred in Ebola treatment centers in Beni and Butembo. Community deaths raise the risk of further disease spread.
Sep 12 WHO update
WHO online Ebola dashboard
Sep 13 CMRE report