Congo records second death from Ebola virus in days – WHO

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BENI – The Democratic Republic of the Congo recorded a second death from the Ebola virus in the days that followed more than seven weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization announced on Sunday.

The Congo was to end the second deadliest virus epidemic on record Sunday, until a case is confirmed in the eastern city of Beni on Friday.

The epidemic has killed more than 2,200 people since August 2018 in a region of the country where militia violence has 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 manager for the WHO Ebola response.

Officials say it is not yet clear how the electrician contracted Ebola. He had no known contact with other Ebola patients and was not a survivor of the virus which could have relapsed, the government said on Friday.

Occasional outbreaks or transmissions are common towards the end of the Ebola outbreaks, and a new case does not necessarily mean that the virus is spreading again out of control.

Ebola causes fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea and is spread among humans through body fluids. During this epidemic, it killed around two-thirds of those infected.

WHO has identified 215 people who contacted the electrician, including 53 health workers in three facilities the man visited before he died, said Diallo. All but one of the health workers had already been vaccinated, he said.

Two new vaccines have helped contain the virus, although public distrust and militia attacks have prevented health workers from reaching some hard-hit areas.

Saturday, a group of angry young men threw stones at a team of WHO workers and the deputy mayor of Beni as they attempted to decontaminate the electrician’s home and find his contacts, Diallo said .

“For them, Ebola is over,” he told Reuters. “People here have a hard time understanding how this case came about two days before the end statement,” said Diallo.

The deputy mayor was forced to abandon his car and escape by motorbike taxi, said Kambale Sabuni, police chief of Beni. (Reporting by Hereward Holland and Erikas Mwisi Kambale; Editing by Aaron Ross, John Stonestreet, Philippa Fletcher and Peter Graff)

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