Last Friday, a new case of the Ebola virus disease was reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The confirmation of the new case in the eastern city of Beni – the first recorded in over 40 days – came as health officials were due to declare an end to the country’s Ebola epidemic which has claimed 2,273 lives since August 2018.
“This is a devastating development in a country that has also been hit by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Roland Hansen, Head of the Africa department at Malteser International. There are currently 215 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the DRC.
“The situation shows just how difficult it is to eradicate an epidemic, especially in a region with ongoing conflict. A single new case can lead to a fresh outbreak. The country’s health system must now fight on two fronts: against the Ebola virus and the coronavirus. That will be a huge challenge for a country that is still dealing with long-running conflicts,” Hansen said.
“A rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, as we are currently experiencing in Europe, would completely overwhelm the healthcare system in DRC,” he continued. “The country is facing a serious shortage of intensive care beds, ventilators, and protective equipment. A widespread outbreak will be catastrophic.
Malteser International is working to support the Congolese health system by providing medical facilities with oxygen units and protective equipment, erecting hand washing stations, and training health personnel in the fight against Ebola and COVID-19. Malteser International is also providing the general public with information about the coronavirus through radio broadcasts, music, community education and posters.
“Health workers in DRC have had experience fighting the Ebola epidemic in the last couple of years,” said Hanse. “hope that this experience will translate into benefits for the people in the fight against coronavirus.”
Malteser International has been present in the DR Congo since 1996, working in the provinces of Ituri, Haut Uélé, and Bas Uélé to improve healthcare provision and ensure food and nutrition security.
Note to editors:
Roland Hansen, Head of Africa Department at Malteser International is available for interviews.
Tel.: +49 (0)221 9822 7181
Find out more on Malteser International’s work in the DR Congo.
We are urgently calling for donations to support our coronavirus response.