WHO: Biakato Mines region linked to recent Ebola cases

In its latest situation report on the 15-month-long Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said that recent cases have been linked to the Biakato Mines health area, with two clusters of cases also reported in Mabalako and Beni.

The outbreak has now entered the third month of declining transmission rates, with only 12 cases reported during the week of Nov 4 to Nov 10. During the outbreak's peak, 120 cases were recorded during the last week of April 2019.

"With the encouraging trends in number of cases reported, a concerted effort from all response teams and international partners is critical in order to continue to be effective, engaged and fully resourced to prevent the spread of disease and halt existing transmission chains," the WHO said.

Of the 12 cases reported last week, all were linked to ongoing transmission chains in Biakato Mines, though only one case was reported in that area.

"Of the 11 cases reported outside of Biakato Mine Health Area, over half of these cases (n=7) were the result of local transmission after reintroduction of cases from Biakato and the remaining four were a result of movement to or from the area," the WHO said.

Five of the 12 cases were nosocomial transmissions, meaning patients acquired the virus in healthcare settings. Eleven of the 12 cases involved known contacts of confirmed cases.

In the 3 weeks from Oct 21 to Nov 10, officials confirmed 42 cases in 15 health areas in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, with Mabalako reporting 38% of cases, Mandima 36%, and Beni 14%.

Four new cases today

According to the WHO's Ebola dashboard today, there are four newly confirmed cases, raising the outbreak total to 3,291. There have been no new deaths recorded in recent days, so the fatalities total remains at 2,192. A total of 508 suspected cases are still being investigated.

Late yesterday the DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) said vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine will start tomorrow in Goma. The vaccine is the second vaccine used in this outbreak.

As of yesterday, a total of 250,622 people in the DRC and neighboring countries have been vaccinated with Merck's VSV-ZEBOV vaccine in a ring vaccination strategy that targeted case contacts and health workers.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be used more broadly and offered to those over 1 year old.

See also:

Nov 12 WHO situation report

WHO Ebola dashboard

Nov 12 CMRE report

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