GENEVA (Reuters) – Ebola is spreading in western Democratic Republic of Congo, with nearly 50 known cases across a large region bordering the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
Since authorities announced the outbreak on June 1, 48 cases have been confirmed in Congo’s Equateur province, with a further three probable cases and a total of 20 deaths, WHO’s top emergencies expert Mike Ryan said.
“This is still a very active outbreak, and I would say it is still a great concern,” Ryan told a news briefing.
The province includes part of the River Congo, he said, adding that it was a large geographical area where communities were linked and people travelled long distances.
“I would caution everyone that while the numbers in this event are low, again in the era of COVID it is very important that we do not take our eyes off these other emerging diseases and we saw in North Kivu and other previous outbreaks of Ebola that these can get out of control very easily,” he said.
Ryan was referring to a separate outbreak of Ebola in Ituri and North Kivu provinces of eastern Congo that was declared over last month. That epidemic, the second largest on record, saw 3,463 confirmed and probable cases and 2,277 deaths over two years.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Editing by Hereward Holland and Andrew Cawthorne