News / Africa

Two Ebola Deaths Confirmed in DRC

FILE - A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment center for infected persons in Sierra Leone, Aug. 20, 2014.
FILE - A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment center for infected persons in Sierra Leone, Aug. 20, 2014.
James Butty

The Democratic Republic of Congo's health minister said two Ebola deaths have been confirmed in his country.

Felix Kabange Numbi said Sunday that samples from two of eight people in the country tested positive for the virus.

The DRC has had numerous encounters with Ebola since it was first discovered in 1976.  

Information Minister Lambert Mende said the new cases were discovered in a small town in the country’s northern Equateur province. He said authorities have isolated the area and set up a laboratory to determine the origin of the virus as well as treat those infected.  

“We have confirmed two cases out of eight samples sent to the lab, and the minister [of health] declared that we have these cases in the DRC," he said.

Mende said there is no connection between the new Ebola cases in the DRC and the outbreak in West Africa.

“You know that we have had six incidents now for Ebola since 1976. There is no link with West Africa, but it is a hemorrhagic fever Ebola.  It is a case that came out of a small village inside the Equateur Province called Jerad, about 1,200 kilometers from the capital city, Kinshasa,” Mende said.

He said authorities have completely isolated the village and set up a laboratory to determine the origin of the virus as well as treating those infected.

President Joseph Kabila sent his Ebola expert to Liberia last week at the request of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to assist Liberia where the virus has killed more 600 people.

Mende said the DRC does not intend to recall its experts from Liberia.  He said his country has many experts who have dealt with Ebola outbreaks in the past.

“We have not only Dr. J.J. Muyembe who went to Liberia, we have many experts here because we dealt with this disease six times since 1976," he said.

Mende said the government has imposed a total ban on bush meat hunting in the entire Equateur province. Consumption of bush meat is said to be one of the causes of Ebola virus.

“That is why among the measures the minister of health announced this evening [Sunday] is a ban on hunting in the bush.  All over the Equateur Province, there will be no hunting during the time it shall take to solve this problem,” Mende said.

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