Two Ebola cases have been confirmed in the Southern Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cases are the first in the province that borders Rwanda to the South-West.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the victims are a mother and her child who are in Mwenga, a place that is over 200km from Bukavu, a town on the border of Rwanda and the DR Congo.
WHO says that the alert was raised on Thursday night, and response teams were soon on the ground ready to provide treatment, start tracing contacts and begin vaccination.
“A mother and her child have been confirmed with Ebola in Mwenga, South Kivu. These are the first cases in this province. As soon as the alert was raised last night, response teams were on the ground ready to provide treatment, start tracing contacts and begin vaccination,” read a tweet from the WHO’s official handle.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization said in a tweet that the two people travelled from Beni to Mwenga in South Kivu.
He said that the news has sparked a rapid response by the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the WHO and partners to provide treatment, identify all contacts, raise community awareness, and begin vaccinating.
The cases come after recent positive news about five days ago where two drugs being tested looked to be more effective in treating Ebola.
It was found that more than 90 per cent of those infected can survive if treated early with the two most effective drugs, named REGN-EB3 and mAb114.
At the end of July, a few days after the first case of Ebola was detected in Goma, the WHO called the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), urging the international community to step up its support.
PHEIC is a formal declaration by the UN agency in charge of world health matters of an extraordinary event, which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease.
According to statistics from WHO, Ebola has so far claimed over 1,888 lives in DR Congo.
Currently, there are no cases of the epidemic outside the DRC though some 3 victims died in Uganda in the month of June.
The region is continuing to put up measures to see that the disease does not spread. Earlier this month, Rwanda and the DRC agreed to set up a joint roadmap for cross-border activities aimed at combating the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic.
Ministries of Health of Rwanda, the DRC, and latest Burundi have embarked on vaccination campaigns for front-line staff against the Ebola virus disease.
Commenting on the new Ebola drugs, Malic Kayumba the Head of Rwanda Health Communication Centre told The New Times that despite the good news, their advice on prevention measures stands.
“The most important element in prevention is that we must all continue to be careful and up our prevention measures; avoid shaking hands, wash hands as much as possible, and stay away from the affected red zones,” he said.