Congo declares end of latest Ebola outbreak in east

A healthcare worker, who volunteered in the Ebola response, decontaminates his colleague in the eastern Congolese town of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo, October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

KINSHASA, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo has declared the end of its latest Ebola virus outbreak in the eastern province of North Kivu, Health Minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani Mbanda said in a statement on Tuesday.

The fifteenth outbreak in the central African country emerged when a new case of the deadly virus was confirmed in the eastern city of Beni on Aug. 22.

Testing showed the case was genetically linked to the 2018-2020 outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which killed nearly 2,300 people.

Another flare-up from that outbreak killed six people last year.

"After 42 days of reinforced surveillance without a new confirmed case... I am happy to solemnly declare the end of the 15th [Ebola] epidemic... that lasted one month and 12 days," Mbungani Mbanda said.

Congo's dense tropical forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which causes fever, body aches, and diarrhoea.

The country has recorded 14 outbreaks since 1976. The 2018-2020 outbreak in the east was Congo's largest and the second largest ever recorded, with nearly 3,500 total cases.

Congo's most recent outbreak was in northwest Equateur province. It was declared over in July after five deaths.

Reporting by Stanys Bujakera Writing by Sofia Christensen Editing by James Macharia Chege

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