KEY POINTS

  • Health officials are getting worried about a new ebola outbreak in Congo
  • They detected the deadly virus in the capital of the Province of Equateur
  • WHO committed $2.3 million but Congo health officials said they needed $40 million to fight it

About a hundred people in Congo were found to be infected by the deadly Ebola virus. This new outbreak got in the nerves of many health officials due to the possibility of having to deal with an uncontrolled epidemic amid coronavirus woes. 

In early June, a cluster of cases was discovered in Mbandaka, the provincial capital of the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Hill revealed that in the last five weeks, the cases already doubled. Forty-three died from the outbreak, said the Word Health Organization (WHO). 

The outbreak was not only concentrated in Mbandaka, but it has spread to 11 health zones, WHO stated. The health agency noted that the spread of the virus already covers about 180 miles of the jungle, fueling concerns about the difficulty of reaching villages that were affected.

Matshidiso Moeti, Africa regional director of WHO, narrated how the Ebola virus is spreading across a wide terrain, yet since the coronavirus pandemic is draining the coffers, scaling up operations to combat the spread becomes difficult.

In May 2018, an Ebola outbreak was also detected in the Equateur Province. However, it was readily contained in a matter of three months. It infected 54 persons and took the lives of 33 persons.

The current outbreak in Mbandaka is of paramount importance to officials because of its strategic port position in the Congo River. This connects Equateur Province to two major places, the Kinshasa and Brazzaville, with populations of 12 million and 2 million respectively. Health officials feared that if the virus would reach either area, it could possibly result in an urban outbreak, which they deemed would be harder to contain.

ebola outbreak Congo ebola outbreak Congo Photo: lukaszdylka/Pixabay

Moeti highlighted that COVID-19 is not the only health emergency that would need support. He underscored how history would show that the Ebola virus was ignored and it put people in peril.

Congo's health ministry said that $40 million is needed to control the Ebola outbreak. The  WHO already committed $2.3 million. However, the amount is still not sufficient. International partners are still focused on coronavirus response and have not yet made additional commitments in terms of funding, which would be used for the outbreak.