Efforts to halt an Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo have made “significant progress”, with the virus now contained to a far smaller and mainly rural area, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.
“We have put the virus in the corner,” Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters in Geneva.
“I believe we have really squeezed the virus into a much smaller geographical area,” he said.
Ebola is now essentially only transmitting within an area of eastern DRC between Mambasa, Komanda, Mandima and Beni, he said.
DRC’s latest Ebola epidemic, which began in August 2018, has killed 2,144 people, making it the second deadliest outbreak of the virus, after the West Africa pandemic of 2014-2016.
At the height of the latest outbreak, 207 “health zones” were affected by Ebola, a figure that now stands at only 27, Ryan said.
But he stressed that despite a “much lower level of transmission”, the danger was not over.
“The fact that it is a smaller space is positive, but … the disease has moved into more rural and more insecure areas,” he warned.
Ebola fighters have been hindered by militia attacks in eastern DRC, as well as by resistance in communities to some of the methods used to rein in the virus.