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Congo has declared an end to its 11th Ebola outbreak in western Equateur province nearly six months after cases were reported. Approximately in the past two and a half years, this is the first time that Congo is Ebola-free.
The health minister of Congo Dr Eteni Longondo, along with the World Health Organization while officially declaring Congo Ebola-free shared that no new cases were reported in more than 48 days.
According to the data provided by WHO and the health ministry, more than 55 deaths were recorded, 119 cases were confirmed, and 75 recoveries since the first outbreak was declared on June 1.
The outbreak in western Congo emerged right before eastern Congo marked an official end on June 25 to the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. As per records, it had killed 2,280 people in over two years.
However, the officials said that both the strains were not related. The health authorities said that this constituted a major logistical challenge in terms of the implementation of response activities in a health system which is already weakened by previous epidemics and by a weak involvement of the community.
The health minister said on Wednesday that 11th Ebola virus epidemic had the particularity of spreading to river and lake health zones.
He also added that they were able to vaccinate more than 40,000 people. Longondo also asked the population to remain vigilant even though the outbreak is over, and appealed to follow safety protocols.
He shared that this is the fifth outbreak in Equateur province. WHO reported that the Equateur province was also the site of the country's ninth Ebola outbreak. WHO commended the response to this outbreak.
WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti reflected on the importance of science and solidarity in overcoming one of the world's most dangerous outbreaks in remote and hard to access communities.
She also added that the technology used to keep the Ebola vaccine at super-cold temperatures would also be helpful when COVID-19 vaccine is brought to Africa,"
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned that this achievement doesn't mean the end of challenges that the country is facing.
The secretary-general of Congo's Red Cross, Jacques Katshishi, said that the international community must continue to receive support from the country's communities.
He also said that bringing an end to Ebola is a huge achievement, although dealing with COVID-19 is another challenge which the country is facing.
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