The latest information about the Ebola Virus Fever epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo

While there has been less media coverage lately about the Ebola Virus Fever epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), those individuals, organizations and companies with activities in Central Africa may still be concerned about the potential impact of the current epidemic on their activities and Europ Assistance wants to keep its community updated with new developments. Many of us are concerned about the growth of the Ebola epidemic and the potential for the disease to cross the borders to either one or both of the neighboring countries, Uganda and Rwanda.

Over the last month there has been a decrease in the growth of the reported numbers, which must be interpreted carefully as insecurity in the affected areas may have led to under-reporting. On October 1st,2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that as of September 29th, 2019 a total of 3191 cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have occurred, killing 2133 of those infected. This represents a case fatality ratio of 67 %. The incidence of new cases has slightly diminished and the epidemic has remained restricted to districts in the north east of the DRC and has not crossed the borders of neighboring countries. No new cases have occurred in the large urban metropolis of Goma.

Europ Assistance’s recommendations for its clients therefore remain the same, namely to avoid any travel to the eastern provinces of the DRC, specifically to the North Kivu and Ituri provinces, unless one is directly involved in fighting the outbreak. The latter should use all proper precautions when visiting health care facilities and those in contact with patients should be vaccinated according to the protocols in place. More than 200000 frontline and health workers have been vaccinated so far in the DRC and neighboring countries, and protocols have been put in place by foreign governments- such as France- to vaccinate the healthcare workers being sent to contribute to the fight against this outbreak. The same precautions apply regarding attendance at funerals. It is also important to note that consumption of bushmeat should be avoided.

There are no restrictions on travel to other provinces of the DRC, especially to the capital Kinshasa, and other neighboring countries, including Uganda and Rwanda. Extensive screenings of travelers, over 100 million to date overall, have contributed to reduce the spread of the current epidemic. Given the need to avoid the spread of the outbreak the air ambulance evacuation of positive cases will be only carried out in very strictly controlled cases where the patient has been accepted by the authorities of the receiving country. Cases will be treated locally, including the use of antibody-based treatments that have proven effective in reducing case fatality if administered in a timely fashion.