KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo — The government on Wednesday declared the end of the latest Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, closing the file on an outbreak in the northwestern province of Equateur that killed dozens over six months.
“I am happy to solemnly declare the end of the 11th epidemic of the Ebola virus,” 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 June 1.
Dr. Longondo’s announcement came after the Democratic Republic of Congo crossed a threshold of 42 days without a recorded case — double the period that the deadly virus takes to incubate. As during a preceding epidemic in the east of the country, the widespread use of vaccinations, which were administered to more than 40,000 people, helped curb the disease, the W.H.O. said.
The outbreak in Equateur began as health workers were still battling an Ebola epidemic in the east and amid tough measures, since eased, to combat the coronavirus.
Despite the official end of the Equateur outbreak, Dr. Longondo expressed caution.
“There remains a high risk of a resurgence, and this should be an alarm signal for strengthening the monitoring system,” the minister said.
The eastern outbreak, which ran from Aug. 1, 2018 to June 25 of this year, 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 to 2016 that killed 11,300 people.
The Ebola virus spreads via contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person. The early symptoms are high fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and sore throats, followed by internal and external bleeding and organ failure. The death rate ranges as high as 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the W.H.O.