Officials in Democratic Republic of Congo DR reported a total of 11 cases, including six deaths, since the outbreak started in the North Kivu province’s Beni region on October 8.

Health authorities vaccinated more than 1,800 people using Merck's recently licensed ERVEBO vaccine, the World Health Organization said in a statement.
Health authorities vaccinated more than 1,800 people using Merck's recently licensed ERVEBO vaccine, the World Health Organization said in a statement. (Reuters)

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo have declared the end of an Ebola outbreak that emerged in early October in North Kivu province and infected 11 people, killing six of them.

"I am happy to declare the end of the 13th epidemic of the Ebola virus disease" in North Kivu, Health Minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani told an online news briefing on Thursday.

"My warm congratulations to health workers in the health zone of Beni who have suspended their strike movement to cope with this epidemic," Mbungani said.

The virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through contact with body fluids, was first discovered near the Ebola River in 1976.

Congo declared its 13th outbreak of the disease on October 8 in Beni in the east of the country, prompting fears of a repeat of a 2018-2020 epidemic that killed nearly 2,300 people in the same region, the second-highest toll recorded in the disease's history.

READ MORE: New Ebola case detected in eastern DRC, dozens being disinfected

'Crucial lessons are being learned'

Health authorities vaccinated more than 1,800 people using Merck's recently licensed ERVEBO vaccine, the World Health Organization said in a statement.

"During this outbreak, the Democratic Republic of Congo was able to limit widespread infections and save lives. Crucial lessons are being learned and applied with every outbreak experience," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's Africa director.

"Stronger disease surveillance, community engagement, targeted vaccination and prompt response are making for more effective Ebola containment in the region," Moeti said.

The newly ended outbreak marked the 13th time Congo has battled Ebola, including another outbreak in North Kivu between February and May of this year.

The disease has proved particularly difficult to prevent in North Kivu, which is home to a myriad of armed groups.

While the 2018-2020 pandemic marked the first time that vaccines could be given to those at risk, insecurity in rural areas prevented health workers from safely accessing many. 

Those challenges also faced vaccination and contact monitoring teams somewhat this time around too, WHO said.

READ MORE: Congo's dilemma: From Ebola to Covid-19 and back

Source: TRTWorld and agencies