NEW DELHI :
Already hit hard by increasing cases of coronavirus infections, Congo has now reported a fresh Ebola outbreak. Congolese health authorities have identified six cases including four fatalities in the north near Mbandaka, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
"This is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face," he said in a statement. The 11th Ebola outbreak in the vast central African country's history comes just weeks before it had hoped to declare the end of the 10th in the east.
WHO would be sending a team to help support DR Congo response. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said, "Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighbouring countries we must act quickly."
The victims died May 18 but test results confirming Ebola only came back over the weekend, according to Congolese Health Minister Dr. Eteni Longondo.
The Ebola epidemic in the country's east has killed 2,280 people since August 2018, and officials had hoped to be able to proclaim it over on June 25. For it to be officially over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days -- double the incubation period.
COVID-19 already has touched 7 of Congo's 25 provinces, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases and 72 deaths. However, like many African countries Congo has conducted extremely limited testing, and observers fear the true toll may be far higher.
While Ebola and COVID-19 have drawn far more international attention, measles has killed more Congolese than those diseases combined. WHO said there have been 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths since 2019.