Sierra Leone To Vaccinate Health Workers Against Ebola

A young man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse in Goma on August 7, 2019. Three cases of the deadly virus was detected in the border city of Goma, the Congolese presidency said on August 1, 2019. Augustin WAMENYA / AFP

 

Sierra Leone announced Saturday it will vaccinate health workers against Ebola in areas near its border with Guinea, where the disease re-emerged in January.

Health Minister Austin Demby said in a statement that US drugs firm Johnson & Johnson was to supply 640 doses of its Ebola vaccine on Saturday and 3,840 doses on Sunday as donations.

“In view of the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in neighbouring Guinea, frontline healthcare workers in border districts are at risk of infection should the virus spill over to Sierra Leone,” the statement said.

READ ALSO: DR Congo Starts Countdown To End Of Ebola Outbreak

The deadly virus reappeared in Guinea in January, evoking the spectres of the devastating 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which left 11,300 dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The official death toll in Sierra Leone was some 4,000 people.

A total of 23 cases have been reported since January in Guinea, mainly in the Nzerekore region, near Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

Sixteen cases have been confirmed, including five deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

In February, Guinea received more than 11,000 doses of Merck’s vaccine provided by the WHO, but measures taken to stop infections, isolate and treat patients and carry out vaccinations sometimes meet resistance from residents.

Ebola, which is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

Death rates are high, at around 50 percent on average of those infected, and up to 90 percent for some epidemics, WHO data shows.

AFP

DR Congo Starts Countdown To End Of Ebola Outbreak

A DR Congo flag.

 

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo, where the deadly Ebola virus first emerged in 1976, has begun a countdown to the official end of its latest outbreak, this time in the east of the country, health authorities said Tuesday.

The last patient to be treated for Ebola tested negative for a second time on Sunday, triggering the 42-day countdown from Monday, the World Health Organization’s DR Congo office said.

The period represents twice the average maximum duration of Ebola’s incubation.

Since the virus re-emerged on February 7 in the DRC’s North Kivu province, 12 cases have been recorded, half of them fatal.

The virus, which jumps to humans from infected animals, is transmitted between people through bodily fluids. The main symptoms are fevers, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

{READ ALSO} COVID-19: First Vaccines Arrive In Papua New Guinea

According to the WHO’s last status report last Thursday, 1,606 people had been vaccinated against Ebola in the DRC, a vast former Belgian colony in central Africa, today one of the world’s poorest countries.

The vaccine, developed by the US lab Merck Sharpe and Dohme, was first used during the 10th Ebola outbreak, which lasted from August 2018 to June 2020 in North and South Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province, as well as during the 11th outbreak, in the western province of Equateur between July and November 2020.

With more than 2,200 recorded deaths, the 10th epidemic is considered the worst to hit the DR Congo since 1976, lasting from August 2018 to June 2020.

The virus also struck Guinea, in West Africa, in mid-February, with 18 cases and nine deaths, according to the WHO.

Nearly 4,000 people have been vaccinated there.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak began in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring west African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The epidemic killed more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases, according to WHO estimates.

DR Congo Sentences 16 To Death For 2019 Killing Of Ebola Medic

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Sixteen people, including a doctor, have been sentenced to death in absentia for the murder of a Cameroonian Ebola expert, lawyers said on Tuesday.

Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, an epidemiologist employed by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), was gunned down in April 2019 at a work meeting at a hospital in Butembo, in North Kivu province.

He was one of many foreign medical workers who had been brought in to help fight an epidemic of Ebola in eastern DR Congo that claimed more than 2,200 lives before it ended in June 2020 after 22 months.

A military court in North Kivu on Monday handed down the death sentence to 16 fugitives, including Dr Jean-Paul Mundama, who were charged with terrorism and criminal association, attorneys familiar with the case said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has not carried out executions since a moratorium was declared in 2003.

Lawyer Jean-Marie Vianney Muhindo Kanzira told AFP that Mouzoko was allegedly the victim of jealousy by local doctors.

Local doctors earned an Ebola bonus of $20 per day, whereas foreign doctors in senior positions could pick up more than $20,000 per month, according to an investigation last December by a news website, Les Jours.

After meeting with four other local doctors who were angry about the different status, Mundama allegedly gave $700 to a former militiaman, with the promise of $20,000 more, if he and others “got the foreigners to flee,” Les Jours said.

Eight other defendants were present at the weeklong trial.

Of these, two militiamen were jailed for five years, and a second doctor, Gilbert Kasereka Kasisivahwa, was handed three years for criminal association.

The international response to the 2018-20 Ebola epidemic, the 10th in DRC’s history, has been subject to much scrutiny.

Tens of millions of dollars poured into a remote region in a poor country, creating work opportunities for many, such as in logistics and tracing.

But it also stoked rivalries and jealousies between staff from the region and those from the DRC capital Kinshasa, and also between DRC hires and foreign hires.

-AFP

Guinea Launches Ebola Vaccination Campaign

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. (Photo by CELLOU BINANI / AFP)

 

Guinea launched an Ebola vaccination campaign on Tuesday after a fresh outbreak of the deadly disease struck the country this month, with officials hoping to eradicate the virus in six weeks.

The country reported new Ebola cases on February 13 — the first in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that left more than 11,300 dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The latest outbreak emerged near the town of Gouecke, in the forested Nzerekore region in Guinea’s southeast, and has already killed five people.

No new cases have however been confirmed for a week.

Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.

Health workers began to administer Ebola vaccines in Gouecke on Tuesday, after over 11,000 doses arrived in Guinea the previous day.

Guinea’s Health Minister Remy Lamah, as well as Georges Ki-Zerbo, the World Health Organization representative in the country, travelled to the town for the start of the rollout.

The WHO plans to send about another 8,000 doses to Guinea, the UN health agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

Health Minister Lamah told AFP: “I think that in six weeks, we can be done with this disease.”

During a ceremony outside a health centre in Gouecke, local government officials received jabs before a crowd of several dozen people. An imam and preacher also encouraged people to get immunised.

Lamah, who hails from the region, said he had spent the day trying to persuade local leaders to overcome their resistance to the vaccine.

– Contact tracing –
Ki-Zerbo said the jabs would be administered mainly to those who had been in contact with people known to be infected, followed potentially by a second circle of people to break the chain of transmission.

The vaccination campaign also began in Dubreka on the outskirts of the capital Conakry, said Dr Halimatou Keita, who works in a hospital there.

On Wednesday, the rollout will continue in Nzerekore, located around 40 kilometres from Gouecke.

A total of 385 people have been identified as contacts linked to the initial case and that person’s relatives, said Bouna Yattassaye, deputy director of the National Agency for Health Security.

The vast majority of them are being monitored and will be among the first to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile in central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo has also seen a new Ebola outbreak.

Officials said Sunday that four people had died while warning that people were resisting measures to contain the highly contagious disease.

 

Ebola Death Toll Rises To Four In DR Congo

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical workers checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.
CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Four people have died from the hemorrhagic Ebola virus during a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Sunday, warning that people are resisting measures to contain the highly contagious disease.

Since the epidemic’s resurgence this month, “we have already registered six Ebola cases. We have lost four infected people,” Eugene Syalita, the provincial health minister in North Kivu province in the DRC’s east, told AFP.

Syalita said one person died Friday and another on Saturday, while the two others died in early February.

Two patients are receiving care at an Ebola treatment centre in Katwa near the major city of Butembo, he added.

Syalita complained that the region’s residents were not taking the new outbreak seriously enough.

READ ALSO: 31 Dead In DR Congo Plague Outbreak

“Some families categorically refuse to have their homes disinfected or to hold dignified and safe funerals,” the doctor said.

“People have not yet understood that Ebola has reappeared. Everything is not yet clear for them.”

A vaccination drive was launched last Monday, but as with past outbreaks, people in the region doubt the existence of Ebola and reject measures aimed at checking its spread, including not to touch sick people and not to wash the dead.

The 10th epidemic, which was declared on August 1, 2018, was finally eradicated on June 25 last year after being exacerbated by ongoing armed conflicts and resistance to anti-Ebola measures.

With more than 2,200 deaths recorded, it is considered the most serious in the history of Ebola in the DRC since the scourge fist appeared in 1976, named after a river in the former Belgian colony, which was known as Zaire at the time.

An 11th outbreak of the virus, which is believed to reside in bats, was declared over in November after claiming 55 lives in the northwestern province of Equateur.

– Outbreak in Guinea, too –
Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.

 

In this file photo taken on June 13, 2017 A health worker walks at an Ebola quarantine unit on June 13, 2017 in Muma, after a case of Ebola was confirmed in the village.  JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

Funeral practices often include washing, touching and kissing bodies that are still capable of transmitting Ebola, and may have particularly high levels of the live virus in excretions.

The virus has also resurfaced in Guinea, where it has already killed five people in the first outbreak in West Africa since a 2013-16 epidemic that left more than 11,300 people dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The United States last week said it would work with the affected governments and the World Health Organization over the outbreaks.

“The world cannot afford to turn the other way. We must do everything in our power to respond quickly, effectively,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

AFP

Ebola Toll Hits Four In DR Congo As People ‘Resist’ Health Measures

FILE: (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

 

Four people have died from Ebola during a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where people are resisting measures to contain the disease, officials said Sunday.

Since the epidemic’s resurgence this month, “we have already registered six Ebola cases. We have lost four infected people,” Doctor Eugene Syalita, the provincial health minister in North Kivu province in the DRC’s northeast, told AFP.

Syalita said one person died Friday and another on Saturday, while the two others died at the beginning of the month.

Two patients are receiving care at an Ebola treatment centre in Katwa, he added.

Syalita complained that the region’s residents were not taking the new outbreak seriously enough.

“Some families categorically refuse to have their homes disinfected or to hold dignified and safe funerals,” the doctor said.

READ ALSO: Djokovic Beats Medvedev To Win Ninth Australian Open

“People have not yet understood that Ebola has reappeared. Everything is not yet clear for them.”

As in past outbreaks, the population of the region refuses to believe in the existence of the Ebola disease and rejects measures aimed at checking the virus’ spread, such as avoiding touching sick people or not washing the dead who are infected.

The tenth epidemic, which was declared on August 1 2018, was only eradicated on June 25 last year because of unrest caused by armed groups and the population’s resistance to anti-Ebola measures.

With more than 2,200 deaths recorded, it is considered the most serious in the history of Ebola in the DRC since its appearance in 1976.

The Ebola virus is transmitted to people through infected animals. Human transmission is through bodily fluids with the main symptoms being fevers, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Ebola has also resurfaced in Guinea, where it has already killed five people.

 

UN Emergency Fund Allocates $15m For Ebola Response In DRC, Guinea

 

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock is today announcing an initial rapid allocation of US$15 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in response to the concerning Ebola outbreaks in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

This is the first time Ebola has been recorded in Guinea since the last outbreak ended in 2016. The outbreak in the DRC is in the same area as the 10th Ebola epidemic that claimed more than 2,200 lives from August 2018 to June 2020.

“Breaking the chain of transmission is the priority so I’m releasing rapid funding for community engagement, infection prevention and control, and vaccination,” said Mr. Lowcock.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: EU Buys Up To 300m More Moderna Jabs

The funding will help DRC and Guinea respond to the outbreak and support neighbouring countries to prepare. Detailed allocation decisions will be made in the next few days as we receive more details about specific requirements, needs, and risks.

In Guinea to date, 10 suspected cases have been recorded. In DRC, there are four confirmed cases, including two deaths.

DR Congo Starts Ebola Vaccination After New Outbreak

FILES) In this file photo taken on June 13, 2017 A health worker walks at an Ebola quarantine unit on June 13, 2017 in Muma, after a case of Ebola was confirmed in the village. 
JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

Health workers in eastern DR Congo have begun an Ebola vaccination drive after four cases, two of them fatal, surfaced just three months after the country’s last outbreak of the disease, the UN said.

“The authorities today… launched an anti-Ebola vaccination campaign in Butembo just a week after the virus re-emerged,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a tweet.

“Workers at Matanda hospital, where the first positive case of Ebola was treated, were the first to be vaccinated,” it said.

The health ministry announced on February 7 that four women in Biene, in the troubled region of North Kivu, had fallen ill with the notorious haemorrhagic fever. Two have since died.

The WHO’s office in the Democratic Republic of Congo said four people in Biene had been vaccinated and 334 other contacts would also receive the jab.

On November 18, DR Congo declared that the country’s 11th documented epidemic of Ebola was over.

The outbreak, in the northwestern province of Equateur, claimed 55 lives.

On Sunday, the West African state of Guinea said it had confirmed seven cases of Ebola — the first resurgence of the disease in the region since a 2013-2016 epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people.

-AFP

Ebola: Profile Of A Prolific Killer

 

A fact file on the Ebola virus that has plunged Guinea into an “epidemic situation” according to a senior health official, and which has killed more than 15,000 people since 1976.

Origins

Ebola was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The tropical virus was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo — then known as Zaire.

Five of the virus species are known to cause disease in humans — Zaire, Sudan, Bundibugyo, Reston and Tai Forest.

The first three species have resulted in serious African outbreaks.

Transmission

The virus’ natural reservoir animal is probably the bat, which does not itself fall ill, but can pass the germ on to humans who hunt it for “bushmeat”.

Other dinnertime favourites in parts of Africa — chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines — are also suspected of transmitting Ebola.

Among humans, the virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person. This can include touching a sick or dead person, and likely also sexual intercourse.

Those infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear. They become more and more contagious until just after their death, which poses great risks during funerals.

Death rates are high, at around 50 per cent on average of those infected, and up to 90 per cent for some epidemics, the World Health Organization (WHO) data shows.

Read Also: Guinea Records Seven Ebola Cases As Health Chief Calls Outbreak An ‘Epidemic’

Symptoms

Following an incubation period of between two and 21 days, Ebola develops into a high fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat.

The initial symptoms are often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.

After-effects have often been observed in survivors, including arthritis, problems with vision, eye inflammation and hearing difficulties.

Treatment

A vaccine developed by the US group Merck Shape and Dohme was found to be very effective in a major study carried out in Guinea in 2015.

It was pre-qualified by the WHO and more than 300,000 doses have been used during a vaccination programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

A second experimental vaccine developed by the US group Johnson & Johnson was introduced preventively in October 2019 in areas that had not been affected by the virus and more than 20,000 people were inoculated.

Worst epidemic (2013-2016)

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak began in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring West African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

That outbreak killed more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases, according to WHO estimates.

10th and 11th DR Congo epidemics

The 10th epidemic began on August 1, 2018 in the North Kivu province of DR Congo, and was declared a global health threat in July 2019 by the WHO.

It was declared over in June 2020 by DR Congo authorities after around 2,280 people had died, making it Africa’s second-worst Ebola outbreak ever.

An 11th Ebola epidemic began that month in the Equator province and was declared over on November 18, with 55 deaths.

“Resurgence” in DR Congo and “epidemic situation in Guinea 

On February 7, the DR Congo said a resurgence of the virus had been identified in an eastern part of the country.

A week later, a senior health official in Guinea said that country was in an “epidemic situation” after seven cases were confirmed in the southeast, three of which had resulted in deaths.

They were the first Ebola fatalities in Guinea since 2016.

A local WHO official said the organisation would send vaccines quickly to help keep the virus from spreading.

Guinea Records Seven Ebola Cases As Health Chief Calls Outbreak An ‘Epidemic’

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical workers checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

The head of Guinea’s health agency said Sunday that the country was in the midst of an Ebola “epidemic situation” with seven cases confirmed in the West African nation, including three deaths.

“Very early this morning, the Conakry laboratory confirmed the presence of the Ebola virus,” Sakoba Keita said after an emergency meeting in the capital.

Health Minister Remy Lamah had earlier spoken of four deaths. It was not immediately clear why the toll had been reduced.

The cases marked the first known resurgence of the virus in West Africa since a 2013-2016 epidemic that began in Guinea and left more than 11,300 dead across the region.

A World Health Organisation representative said it would rapidly send assistance.

This file photo taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

Keita, head of the National Agency for Health Security, said one person had died in late January in Gouecke, near the Liberian border.

The funeral took place in Gouecke on February 1 “and some people who took part in this funeral began to have symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting, bleeding and fever a few days later,” he said.

READ ALSO: US, WHO Push China For Data From Early Days Of Contagion

The first samples tested by a laboratory set up by the European Union in Gueckedou, located in the same region, revealed the presence of the Ebola virus in some of them on Friday, said Keita.

He added that with a total of seven cases and three deaths, Guinea was now in an “Ebola epidemic situation.”

AFP

DR Congo Announces ‘Resurgence’ Of Ebola

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 07, 2018 A health worker waits to handle a new unconfirmed Ebola patient at a newly build MSF (Doctors Without Borders) supported Ebola treatment centre (ETC) on November 7, 2018 in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo
John WESSELS / AFP

 

DR Congo on Sunday announced a “resurgence” of Ebola in its troubled east after a woman died of the disease, just three months after authorities declared the end of the country’s previous outbreak.

“We have another episode of the Ebola virus” in the Biena health zone of North Kivu province, Health Minister Eteni Longondo told state television RTNC.

“It was a farmer, the wife of a survivor ofEbola, who showed typical signs of the disease on February 1,” he added.

She died on February 3, after which a sample of her blood tested positive for Ebola, the health ministry said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo declared on November 18 the end of its eleventh Ebola outbreak, which claimed 55 lives out of 130 cases over nearly six months in the northwestern province of Equateur.

The last person declared recovered from Ebola in Equateur was on October 16.

The widespread use of Ebola vaccinations, which were administered to more than 40,000 people, helped curb the disease.

The return of Ebola in the country’s northeast — a region plagued by violence between armed groups — comes as the vast African country is also fighting its own Covid-19 outbreak.

A previous Ebola outbreak in the DRC’s east, which ran from August 1, 2018, to June 25 2020, was the country’s worst-ever, with 2,277 deaths.

It was also the second-highest toll in the 44-year history of the disease, surpassed only by a three-country outbreak in West Africa from 2013-16 that killed 11,300 people.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever was first identified in 1976 after scientists probed a string of unexplained deaths in what is now northern DRC.

The symptoms are severe: high fever and muscle pain followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, internal and external bleeding.

The average fatality rate from Ebola is around 50 percent but this can rise to 90 percent for some epidemics, according to the World Health Organization.

The virus that causes Ebola is believed to reside in bats.

DR Congo has also recorded 23,599 coronavirus cases and 681 deaths in a population of around 80 million people.

-AFP

DR Congo Announces End Of Latest Ebola Epidemic

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday declared the end of the country’s latest Ebola epidemic after the outbreak killed 55 people over the past five months.

“I am happy to solemnly declare the end of the 11th epidemic of the Ebola virus in Equateur province” in the vast country’s northwest, Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists.

The World Health Organization said the latest outbreak had killed 55 people among 119 confirmed and 11 probable cases since it began in June.

More o follow . . .