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‘Democratic Republic of Congo is Ebola Free,’ Declares WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Friday.

In late August, WHO was notified by the DRC of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Jeera county, Equateur province.

This outbreak, which is unrelated to that affecting West Africa and also the seventh outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in the country since it was first identified there in 1976, led to a total of 66 cases, including eight among healthcare workers.

By November 20, a total of 42 days had passed since the last case tested negative twice and was discharged from hospital.

According to WHO recommendations, the end of an Ebola virus disease outbreak in a country can be declared once 42 days have passed and no new cases have been detected. The 42 days represents twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola.

However, WHO commended the DRC’s strong leadership and effective coordination of the response that included rapidly mobilising an expert response team to Jeera county, identifying and monitoring contacts and organising safe burials, Xinhua reported.

WHO, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the US Centers for Disease Control, Unicef and other partners supported the government of the DRC with expertise for outbreak investigation, a mobile laboratory, risk communications and social mobilisation, contact tracing and clinical care.

The government of the DRC moved quickly to mobilise expert teams. Early engagement of traditional, religious and community leaders played a key role in successful containment of this outbreak.

However, the government of the DRC and staff in the WHO country office are aware that the country remains vulnerable to Ebola virus disease and the country surveillance system remains on high alert.

(With inputs from IANS)

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