DRC begins immediate Ebola vaccination as Guinea tracks potential contacts
London, Feb. 16, 2021 (AltAfrica)-An Ebola vaccination campaign has begun in the city of Butembo, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced via a tweet on Monday
The authorities of #RDC today launched the vaccination campaign against #Ebola at #Butembo , just a week after the virus resurgence. Hospital staff #Matanda , where the first positive case was treated, was the first to receive the vaccine. said the tweet in French
Les autorités de #RDC 🇨🇩 ont lancé aujourd'hui la campagne de vaccination contre #Ebola à #Butembo, une semaine seulement après la résurgence du virus. Le personnel de l'hôpital de #Matanda, où le premier cas positif a été traité, a été le premier à recevoir le vaccin. pic.twitter.com/oWkJGHXzwX— OMS Afrique (@OMS_Afrique) February 15, 2021
Congo has confirmed four cases of Ebola since a resurgence of the virus was announced on Feb. 7 in Butembo, the epicentre of a previous outbreak that was declared over last June.
Meanwhile, Guinea is tracking down people who potentially had contact with Ebola patients and will rush vaccines to the affected area as soon as possible following at least four deaths from the disease, Health Minister Remy Lamah said on Monday
Lamah said that unlike during the deadliest known outbreak,which tore through West Africa in 2013-2016, Guinea had the means to halt the resurgence of the virus
The WHO representative in Guinea, Georges Ki-Zerbo, said he had requested authorisation to obtain as many vaccines doses as possible to tackle the outbreak
He added that there were some constraints in getting the vaccines to Guinea quickly, but authorities were working on the issues so that the vaccines could be available by next week fora targeted vaccination campaign.
International organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres and medical charity ALIMA said they were sending rapid response teams to the region to assist
The Ebola virus causes severe bleeding and organ failure and is spread through contact with body fluids.
“In 2013, it took us months to understand that we were dealing with an Ebola epidemic, while this time, in less than four days, we were able to do analysis and have the results. Our medical teams are trained and seasoned. We have the means to quickly overcome this disease,” Lamah told Reuters.
The 2013-2016 outbreak killed 11 300 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The second-deadliest known outbreak was declared over last year in Democratic Republic of Congo, but it also saw a resurgence this month.
An Ebola vaccination campaign started in eastern Congo on Monday.
“There is hope that with new tools and the experience and lessons learned, this could maybe work better this time,” said Ki-Zerbo, underlining the need to involve local communities and listen to them.
Neighbouring Sierra Leone has sent workers to watch border entry points in coordination with Guinea authorities, a Health Ministry spokesperson said.
The outbreak started after the funeral of a nurse who was buried in southeast Guinea on February 1. She is thought to have had Ebola and seven people who attended her funeral have tested positive for Ebola, with three dying, authorities said.
“What worries us the most is the dangerousness of the disease given what we experienced five years ago. We do not want to relive such a situation,” Lamah said.