A new case of Ebola hemorrhagic fever has been confirmed in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo, four months after the end of the country’s last outbreak.
The National Institute of Biomedical Research said on Saturday that a 31-year-old male was detected in Mbandaka city, the capital of Congo’s Equateur province.
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The patient’s symptoms began on April 5, but he did not seek treatment for more than a week. He was admitted to an Ebola treatment centre on April 21 and died later that day, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.
“Time is not on our side,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.
“The disease has had a two-week head start and we are now playing catch-up,” Moeti said.
The WHO said that efforts to contain the disease are already under way in Mbandaka – a crowded trading hub on the banks of the Congo River where people live in close proximity. The city has road, water and air links to the capital Kinshasa.
Congo has seen 13 previous outbreaks of Ebola, and Mbandaka has contended with two – in 2018 and 2020.
The Ebola outbreak in 2018-2020, in the east of the country, killed nearly 2,300 people, the second-highest toll recorded in the history of the hemorrhagic fever.
The last outbreak, also in the east of the country, infected 11 people between October and December and killed six of them.