DR Congo Now Battling Coronvirus And Ebola

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Ebola
The Democratic Republic of Congo is now battling the coronavirus and Ebola as the Central African country braces for the COVID-19 pandemic. In this Tuesday, July 16, 2019 photo, health workers dressed in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. Image: AP Photo/Jerome Delay

The Democratic Republic of Congo is still battling Ebola and also reports 223 coronavirus cases and 20 deaths.

A new case of the Ebola virus has been confirmed in DR Congo three days before the Central African country was planning to officially declare the end of an outbreak that began in 2018, according to the World Health Organization.

Ebola is named after a river in Zaire — now the Democratic Republic of Congo — close to where the disease was first discovered in 1976. The Ebola River is a tributary of the Congo River.

After 42 days without any newly reported cases of Ebola, an outbreak is considered to be over in all African countries, according to World Health Organization guidelines.

The 42-day period is regarded as twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola infections.

The new case was confirmed in Beni, a city on the edge of the Ituri Forest that has been the epicenter of the second-deadliest ever Ebola outbreak, with at least 2,276 dead since August 2018.

The virus causes hemorrhagic fever and is fatal 50 percent of the time, according to The World Health Organization.

A 26-year-old man died on April 9 in a hospital after showing Ebola symptoms several days earlier. Two more cases have since emerged. A young child died on April 13 and a seven-year-old girl is infected and receiving treatment in hospital, Anadolu Agency reports.

DR Congo’s health focus has shifted to COVID-19.

In an effort to combat COVID-19, cleaners clad in white suits deployed sprays and fumigators to disinfect streets and buildings in the commercial center of Kinshasa, the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

DR Congo’s minister of public health, Dr. Eteni Longondo, established a coronavirus preparedness committee in January that meets twice a week.

Screening is taking place at the country’s ports of entry and a process of screening, isolation, and testing is in place for those suspected of having the virus.

Some of the infrastructure needed to diagnose, isolate and treat severe cases is already in place due to Ebola, according to Dr. Gervais Folefack Tengomo, the World Health Organization incident manager for COVID-19 in DR Congo.

The coronavirus has spread throughout Africa, infecting more than 15,300 people and resulting in at least 835 deaths, according to Africa News.

Countries with advanced healthcare systems including the U.S., Italy, Spain, the U.K., and China have been overwhelmed by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In Congo, the World Health Organization is concerned that COVID-19 could spread undetected in an impoverished country that has endured decades of conflict, where communities often mistrust health workers, according to The Washington Post.

While the rate of infection remains lower in Africa compared to Europe, Asia, and the U.S., the health systems in some African countries such as Cameroon are already becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 infected patients, VOA reports.