New Ebola case discovered in eastern DR Congo

A new case of Ebola virus has been detected in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo near the city of Butembo, and the infected person has died, the Ministry of Health said on Sunday.

A woman was found with symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus in the city of Biena on February 1 and died at a hospital in Butembo on February 3. She was married to a man who had contracted the virus in a previous outbreak.

“The province’s response team is already hard at work. It will be supported by the national response team that will soon visit Butembo,” the statement said.

The announcement potentially marks the beginning of Congo’s 12th Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976, more than double any other country.

It comes almost three months after Congo announced the end of its eleventh outbreak hundreds of miles away in the west, infecting 130 people and killing 55. That outbreak overlapped with a previous one in the east that killed more than 2,200 people, the second most in the history of the disease.

The emergence of more cases could complicate efforts to eradicate COVID-19, which has infected 23,600 people and killed 681 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A vaccination campaign is expected to start during the first half of this year.

Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural container for the Ebola virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and is spread by contact with body fluids.