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Just as Ebola Epidemic Was Nearly Defeated, a Big Problem

Patient flees, sparking fears flare-up will become a larger outbreak
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2020 3:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – An Ebola patient has escaped from a clinic in eastern Congo, leading to fears that a flare-up of the hemorrhagic fever that started April 10 won't be so easily contained. The Democratic Republic of Congo hadn't seen a new case in more than seven weeks, and was two days out from declaring that the second-largest Ebola epidemic the world has ever seen was over. Then the new chain of infection was discovered, and health authorities were working to track and contain patients; six have been found so far. A 28-year-old motorbike taxi driver tested positive and was being treated at a center in the town of Beni, but he got away Friday.

"We are expecting secondary cases from him," a WHO manager says, but "we are using all the options to get him out of the community. ... All have been working with the authorities, youths and civil society to find him." Adds Beni's deputy mayor, "Since he is out of treatment he will die, and create a lot of contacts around him." Those contacts must be quarantined and vaccinated. Reuters explains that public trust in authorities is low in Congo, and many communities do not believe Ebola is real. The flare-up comes as the region also fights measles and cholera epidemics plus, of course, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 25 people in the country so far. (Read more Ebola stories.)

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