The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa announced via a tweet on March 3 that the last Ebola patient in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been cleared to leave the treatment facility in Beni. The DRC declared an Ebola outbreak in 2018, which impacted the country’s eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu. More than 2,000 Congolese lives were lost among 3,000 total confirmed infections. WHO regional director Dr Matshidiso Moeti offered cautious optimism that the Ebola outbreak might be nearing its end. No new infections had been reported in the previous two weeks, but WHO policy requires forty-two days to go by without a new case before declaring an outbreak officially over.
Why It Matters
As the spread of the coronavirus sparks fears that health systems in Africa would not be able to cope with an outbreak, the news that the Ebola outbreak in the DRC is possibly over couldn’t have come at a better time. Lessons have been learned in how to curb the spread of a virus. “The Ebola epidemics have enabled [African] countries to have a base on which we can rely in preparation for COVID-19,” says Michel Yao, WHO program manager for emergency response in Africa.