Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday announced a return of Ebola in its troubled east, just three months after authorities declared the end of the country’s latest outbreak.

In this file image, a healthcare worker decontaminates his colleague in the eastern Congolese town of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo, October 8, 2019.
In this file image, a healthcare worker decontaminates his colleague in the eastern Congolese town of Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo, October 8, 2019. (Reuters Archive)

Two people have contracted Ebola and died this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the health ministry said in a statement.

A 60-year-old woman who died on Wednesday in the district of Biena had a link with a woman who also died after contracting Ebola and was married to a survivor of the previous major outbreak, the statement said.

Congo's Health Ministry has deployed a team to the area and is tracing more than 100 contacts of the two women in the health zones of Biena and Katwa, it said in the statement.

READ MORE: New Ebola case detected in eastern DRC, dozens being disinfected

Teams dispatched in response to resurgence

On Sunday, Democratic Republic of Congo announced a "resurgence" of Ebola just three months after authorities declared the end of the country's latest outbreak.

Samples from the wife of the survivor have been sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Research in the capital Kinshasa for genome sequencing to determine whether there is a link to the previous outbreak, WHO Africa said in a statement on Sunday.

"Another national team will follow early next week. We are here. We will do everything to make this disease go away as soon as possible," local news website Actualite quoted Minister of Health Eteni Longondo as saying.

He said a provincial response team had been formed and would be in the northeastern city of Beni on Sunday.

The expertise and capacity of local health teams have been critical in detecting this new Ebola case and paving the way for a timely response, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Resurgence of the virus

Ebola swept through eastern Congo from 2018 to 2020 in an outbreak that killed more than 2,200 people before it was declared over last June.

It is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following a major outbreak, according to the WHO.

Congo's equatorial forests have been a breeding ground for the Ebola virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and is spread through contact with body fluids.

The country has experienced 11 outbreaks since the virus was first discovered near the Ebola river in 1976.

READ MORE: Congo's dilemma: From Ebola to Covid-19 and back

Source: TRTWorld and agencies