July 24th will mark 42 days, two incubation periods of 21 days each, since the last patient infected with the Ebola virus was released from care. The World Health Organization says it expects the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo to be over on that day.
The countdown toward the end of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC started on June 12. If no other cases of this fatal disease are identified by July 24, the DRC’s Ministry of Health will announce the end of the disease the following day in an elaborate ceremony in the capital, Kinshasa.
The WHO said from April 4, when Ebola was first detected, through July 9, there have been 38 confirmed cases, including 29 deaths. This is the ninth outbreak of this fatal disease in DRC in the past four decades.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told VOA the World Health Organization and partners were able to contain the virus in record time because of lessons learned from the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014 and ‘15. That epidemic killed more than 11,000 people.
She said everyone involved in the operation reacted rapidly and robustly to this emergency and better use was made of the tools available for fighting Ebola.
“This time,” she added, “we had a new tool that we did not have before, a vaccine. And, potentially, this also made it easier to explain to the population that even if it is a serious disease, we can stop it and we have a vaccine to help stop it.”
It only takes one case of Ebola to set off a fast-moving epidemic. So, Chaib said it is important to quickly mobilize to combat the disease.
She said WHO and partners will not let down their guard. Active surveillance for Ebola continues, she said, and every suspected case will be promptly investigated.
She said a national survivors association is being created to provide essential medical follow-up and psycho-social support to those who have been stricken with the disease and, fortunately, have lived to tell the tale.