Congo declares its Ebola outbreak over

KINSHASA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo declared its three-month Ebola outbreak officially over on Saturday after 42 days without recording a new case of the disease.

Congo’s outbreak, which killed 49 of the 66 people infected in the remote northwestern Equateur province, is unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa, where at least 5,177 people are known to have died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

“No new cases have been registered since Oct. 4,” Health Minister Felix Kabange told reporters in Kinshasa.

“After 42 days of active searching, the government declaresthe end of the outbreak of the Ebola virus,” he added.

Forty-two days is the internationally-accepted period for declaring Ebola over as it represents two full cycles of the maximum possible incubation period of the disease.

Congo acted swiftly to contain the outbreak, partly as a result of having already faced six previous outbreaks since the disease was first identified in the former Belgian colony in 1976.

Unlike West Africa, where the disease spread across most of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, reaching densely populated capital cities, the epicentre of Congo’s outbreak was in northwestern forests with little access.

Congo has launched a plan to train 1,000 Congolese volunteers to help West African nations fight the outbreak, which has now affected six nations in the region. (Reporting by Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by David Lewis; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)