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New Ebola case detected in DR Congo

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A woman has died from Ebola in a new case of the virus detected near the city of Butembo in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The woman was found with symptoms of the virus in the town of Biena on Feb. 1 and died in hospital in Butembo on Feb. 3.

She was married to a man who had contracted the virus in a previous outbreak.

It was not yet clear if the case marks the start of a new outbreak or if it represents a manageable flare-up from an outbreak in the region that killed over 2,200 people between 2018 and 2020, the second-most in the disease’s history.

The country’s health ministry said the woman who showed symptoms on 1 February in the town of Biena, North Kivu, died in hospital in Butembo two days later.

Health minister, Eteni Longondo told state television RTNC, “It was a farmer, the wife of a survivor of Ebola, who showed typical signs of the disease on February 1.

“The provincial response team is already hard at work. It will be supported by the national response team which will visit Butembo shortly.”

The New England Journal of Medicine had reported earlier that the virus can live in the semen of male survivors for more than three years. 

The announcement potentially marks the start of Congo’s twelfth Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976, more than double any other country.

More than 70 people who came into contact with the dead woman have been tracked and the places she visited are being disinfected, said the World Health Organization, which is helping with the response. 

Samples have been sent to the capital, Kinshasa, to confirm the link to the previous outbreak.

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