Kinshasa (AFP)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo officially declared on Monday an eleventh epidemic of Ebola hemorrhagic fever on its soil, with the resurgence of an outbreak in the northwest of the country, which is in addition to the tenth still ongoing in the East , and a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Kinshasa sought the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) by announcing the return of the hemorrhagic fever virus to Mbandaka, capital of Equateur province, about 600 km as the crow flies north of the Congolese capital.

"WHO already has teams in Mbandaka to support the response to the new Ebola epidemic," assured the director general of the UN agency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Twitter.

Eight cases have been recorded since May 30, including four deaths, said Congolese Minister of Health Eteni Longondo.

He clarified that there were confirmed and probable cases (not laboratory confirmed, but with an epidemiological link with a confirmed case or another probable case).

The Minister mentioned one death from confirmed cases and three deaths from probable cases, as well as two confirmed cases and two probable cases still alive.

The province of Equateur was affected by a previous Ebola epidemic between May and July 2018 (54 cases for 33 dead and 21 survivors).

"We will send them the vaccine as well as the medicines very quickly," added the minister, ensuring that he wanted to go to the scene at the end of the week.

Two unlicensed vaccines were used on more than 300,000 people in the other Ebola epidemic still underway at another end of the country, in the East.

It is the second most serious epidemic in the history of the disease, with 2,280 victims since its declaration on August 1, 2018.

On May 14, health authorities restarted a 42-day countdown to declare the end of this tenth epidemic, which mainly affected the province of North Kivu.

- Countdown stopped -

In total, there have been eleven epidemics of Ebola fever declared on Congolese soil since the discovery of the virus in this country then called Zaire in 1976, already in the province of Equateur.

The DRC is also affected by the global epidemic of coronavirus (3,195, including 2,896 in Kinshasa, and 72 deaths, according to the latest official figures published on Monday).

The average of new Covid-19 cases has increased to 100 a day, with an increase in the number of tests.

"We are in an ascending period of the curve," said the Minister of Health on Monday, according to whom it is "risky" to lift the measures implemented on March 20 against the coronavirus.

These measures provide for travel restrictions between Kinshasa and the rest of the country, including Equateur province.

No case of coronavirus has been recorded in this province of Ecuador again affected by Ebola.

The head of the care teams for patients with Covid-19 is the Congolese virologist Jean-Jacques Muyembe, one of the discoverers of the Ebola virus in 1976 with the Belgian Peter Piot.

Professor Muyembe has been mobilized for each Ebola epidemic in his country, notably in Kikwit (center) in 1995: "I have devoted my whole life and my whole career to fighting against Ebola".

The DRC is also facing an epidemic of measles that has killed more than 6,000 people since early 2019, as well as episodes of cholera and, like so many other African countries, the ravages of malaria.

"This epidemic reminds us that Covid-19 is not the only health threat that people face," said the director general of the WHO. "WHO continues to monitor and respond to many health emergencies."

© 2020 AFP