Coronavirus – Democratic Republic of Congo: Building on Ebola response to tackle COVID-19 in DRC

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The Ebola outbreak in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was declared over today, almost two years since the first case was confirmed. The DRC Ministry of Health made the announcement after no new cases were reported 42 days since the last patient tested negative for the virus.

The outbreak started in August 2018. There were 3470 cases, 2287 lives lost and 1171 survivors, making it the second-deadliest after the one in West Africa that lasted from 2014 to 2016.

In a context of insecurity, the efforts to halt the 10th Ebola outbreak in the DRC were particularly challenging. Emergency teams from World Health Organization (WHO), partner organizations, the DRC Ministry of Health and communities made huge efforts to end the outbreak.

“During the almost two years we fought the Ebola virus, WHO and partners helped strengthen the capacity of local health authorities to manage outbreaks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“The DRC is now better, smarter and faster at responding to Ebola and this is an enduring legacy which is supporting the response to COVID-19 and other outbreaks.”

The gains made during this response are already being applied to other public health emergencies in the DRC. Many of the key approaches in tackling Ebola such as contact tracing, infection prevention and control and isolating patients and suspected cases are at the core of COVID-19 response in the country, where more than 6000 cases have been confirmed so far.

WHO is supporting countries in Africa as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates in the region. As well as providing equipment and expertise to support the response, WHO is also helping countries to minimize disruption to essential health services and to restore a full range of services as lockdowns are eased to protect people from preventable diseases like malaria.

Together with APO Group, WHO held a virtual press conference today with Dr Moeti, Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, Director-General, National Institute for Biomedical Research, DRC, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO and Hon Dr Eteni Longondo, Minister of Public Health, DRC.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.

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