The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, WHO and partners are responding to an Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak since 1 August 2018, with the epicentre being Mangina town in Mabalako Health Zone, North Kivu Province, in the east of the country. Confirmed cases have also been reported from Beni Health Zone (North Kivu Province) and Mandima Health Zone (Ituri Province).
North Kivu and Ituri are among the most populated provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. North Kivu shares borders with Uganda and Rwanda. The provinces have been experiencing intense insecurity and a worsening humanitarian crisis, with over one million internally displaced people and a continuous efflux of refugees to neighbouring countries, including Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.
To date (2 September 2018), there have been 81 deaths with 121 cases of which 91 are confirmed and 30 are probable as stated by the WHO. There are Ebola treatment centres (ETCs) in Mabalako and Beni.
Since the onset of the outbreak, a total of 10 case-patients have recovered from the disease and were discharged and re-integrated into their communities.
According to the WHO reports, on 20 August 2018, a total of 2,408 contacts were listed, of these, 637 completed their 21-day mandatory follow up period. A total of 1,782 are currently under surveillance, of which 1,686 (95%) were seen on the reporting day.
The Ministry of Health, WHO and partners are monitoring and investigating alerts in other provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in neighbouring countries. Alerts were investigated in several provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as in Uganda, Rwanda and the Central African Republic, and, to date, EVD has been ruled out in all these alerts. WHO regional offices in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda have enhanced their operational readiness and preparedness as they are priorities based on their proximity to the affected areas.
Guidance for organisations
- Detailed advice can been found on the Public Health England guidance: Ebola virus disease: information for humanitarian aid workers.
- Public Health England is operating a returning workers scheme for humanitarian and healthcare workers who will be residing in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland after they have completed their deployments. Deploying organisations are asked to register their workers with the scheme in advance of their return to the UK. Further information on the returning workers scheme is available from PHE.
Guidance for travellers
For travellers that are going to the affected areas, precautions need to be taken as below:
- Avoid contact with symptomatic patients and their body fluids; corpses and bodily fluids from deceased patients
- Avoid handling or eating bush/wild meat
- Practice safe sex
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub solution
Guidance for returning travellers
Non-clinical personnel working outside the affected areas in DRC are at very low risk. For those working in the affected areas, the risk will vary, depending on activities. Exposed risk for those working directly with infected individuals, such as treatment centres, would be low assuming that strict barrier techniques have been implemented and all staff are provided with and trained in the use of appropriate protective equipment (Travel health pro).
Traveller’s involved in the care of EVD patients or who suspect possible exposure to the Ebola virus in the affected areas, should take the following precautions for 21 days after returning:
If they develop Ebola like symptoms (Initially sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and in some cases bleeding ) seek immediate medical attention (eg. Through hotline telephone number to 111 or 999) and mention their recent travel history.
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/democratic-republic-of-the-congo
- Travel Health Pro - https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/news/342/ebola-virus-disease-evd-in-democratic-republic-of-congo
- WHO – Ebola Virus Disease. Democratic Republic of the Congo. External situation Report 04 - http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/274284/SITREP_EVD_DRC_20180826-eng.pdf?ua=1
- WHO – Emergencies preparedness, response. Ebola virus disease - Democratic Republic of the Congo - http://www.who.int/csr/don/24-august-2018-ebola-drc/en/