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DRC Ebola outbreaks: Crisis update


On 1 June 2020, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared its eleventh Ebola outbreak since records began, following the revelation of new cases of Ebola in Équateur province, northwestern DRC.

Less than two years since the last outbreak of the disease ended in Équateur province - and just weeks before the country declared over its long-running tenth tenth outbreak, in North Kivu and Ituri provinces - authorities reported over a dozen people with either confirmed or suspected cases in the city of Mbandaka and surrounding area.


On 9 June, WHO announced that there is no link between the tenth outbreak and the eleventh outbreak; they also established that the virus in the new outbreak is distinct from that which circulated in Équateur province during the country's ninth outbreak in 2018.


Current figures on 11th outbreak - information as of 2 September 2020; figures provided by DRC Ministry of Health via WHO.


Current situation


The response to this eleventh Ebola epidemic does not face the kind of security challenges that affected the response to the tenth Ebola outbreak. However, the area nevertheless poses significant logistical challenges.

   

   
Équateur province is the same size as Iceland (nearly 104,000 km2), with some health areas only accessible by river using canoes or after hours of difficult transport by rough roads through the forest. Only one helicopter is available to humanitarian organisations to move around the region.


Villages are scattered in the area, with often large distances between them, and many are extremely remote. MSF teams, with equipment, often need to reach these places by traversing lakes or navigating rivers.


MSF response to eleventh outbreak


Following the declaration of the eleventh Ebola virus outbreak in DRC by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on 1 June, MSF teams decided on a decentralised, community-focused approach.


MSF teams are working in five health zones: Bolomba, Bikoro, Monieka, Ingende and Lotombe. In total, we are providing care to patients in across nine treatment and isolations centres.


In Bolomba health zone, in addition to the support provided to the Ebola treatment centre at the general hospital, we have set up two small treatment and isolation centres in the remote health areas of Boso Mondomba and Yuli.


The same decentralised approach has been adopted in the Monieka and Bikoro health zones, where we are supporting four small care and isolation structures in difficult-to-access health areas.


Across the five zones, our teams are supporting community surveillance and are providing rapid treatment to patients living in hard-to-reach areas, in order to curb the spread of the disease.


Our health promotion teams are also supporting those of the Ministry of Health across the five health zones, to strengthen awareness and community-based surveillance.


We are also supporting health centres in the hotspots and on the major axes of Bolomba and Bikoro, with non-Ebola health needs. (reliefweb.int)

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