BENI, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Apr 12 (Reuters) – The Democratic Republic of the Congo registered a second death from Ebola in a few days after more than seven weeks without a new case, the World Health Organization said on Sunday.
The country was planning to end Sunday’s second deadliest outbreak of the virus on record, until a case was confirmed in the eastern city of Beni on Friday.
The outbreak has killed more than 2,200 people since August 2018 in an area of the country where militia violence hampered efforts to contain it.
The latest victim was an 11-month-old girl, who was treated at the same health center as the previous case, a 26-year-old electrician, said Boubacar Diallo, deputy incident director for the WHO Ebola response.
Authorities say it is not yet clear how the electrician contracted the disease. He had no known contact with other Ebola patients and was not a survivor of the virus that may have relapsed, the government said Friday.
Outbreaks or spot transmissions are common towards the end of Ebola outbreaks, and a new case does not necessarily mean that the virus will spread out of control again.
The Ebola virus causes fever, bleeding, vomiting, and diarrhea and is spread among humans through body fluids. During this outbreak, it killed about two-thirds of those infected.
Two new vaccines have helped contain the virus, although distrust of the public and attacks by militias prevented health workers from reaching some severely affected areas.
On Saturday, a group of youths threw stones at a team of WHO workers and the deputy mayor of Beni as they tried to decontaminate the electrician’s house and trace their contacts, Diallo said.
“Ebola is over for them,” he told Reuters. “People here have some trouble understanding how this case came just two days before the end statement,” added Diallo.
(Information from Hereward Holland and Erikas Mwisi Kambale; edited by Aaron Ross, John Stonestreet, Philippa Fletcher and Peter Graff; translated by Andrea Ariet in Gdansk)