The World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced its concern over the reappearance and subsequent spread of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a territory formerly known as Zaire.
The international agency has said the risk, for now, was moderate at the regional level and weak from an international perspective, due to which it advised governments against imposing travel or trade restrictions with DR Congo.
A WHO report last week, however, did not rule out a risk of regional and international transmission in the near future of the Ebola virus following a new epidemic of this hemorrhagic fever in the city of Mbandaka, which has caused two deaths since April 21. As of April 27, 267 contacts have been identified, according to the WHO, which considers it difficult to assess the scale of the epidemic.
The risk of regional and international spread of this epidemic is not excluded because the city of Mbandaka borders the Congo River and has river and land connections with the capital Kinshasa, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Angola, the WHO said in a statement.
Mbandaka also has air links with Kinshasa and the province of South Ubangi, which borders the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo, the WHO added, although it deemed the risk to be moderate at the regional level and low at the international level and advised against imposing any travel or trade restrictions on DR Congo.
But the risk of spread within the country is high due to the presence of animal reservoirs and intermediate hosts, other environmental factors, and a health system already weakened by epidemics of cholera, measles, and COVID-19.
First identified in 1976 in then-Zaire, the Ebola virus is transmitted to humans by infected animals. Human-to-human transmission occurs through body fluids. Its main symptoms are fever, vomiting, hemorrhage, and diarrhea. DR Congo has experienced 14 Ebola epidemics.