The United Nations' World Health Organisation has announced a second case of Ebola infection in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after identifying over a dozen suspected cases in the past seven days.
The last outbreak of Ebola in the DRC was in 2014, when 49 people died. On 21 November 2014, the WHO announced declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak was over, 42 days after no new cases had been detected.
On 12 May, the WHO declared an Ebola "epidemic" after one person, who tested positive to the Ebola virus (Zaïre serotype) in a laboratory, died in Likati health district (Aketi, Bas-Uélé province), some 1,400km from the capital Kinshasa.
Since then, there have been three Ebola-related deaths and 11 suspected cases. Health agencies and organisations, including Alima and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), is reportedly trying to reach the outbreak area.
Quoted by RFI, Alima's head of mission Régis Biosel said that the deployment of teams and equipment is hindered by the hemmed-in position of the outbreak area of Aketi, the north-east territory where the new outbreak is believed to have occurred.
"The first difficulty is that we are in areas where there are absolutely no road. All-terrain vehicles cannot pass, so most of the connections are by motorcycle or by boas. So we can transport people, but transporting equipment is always a challenge. And countering Ebola means a lot of material," Biosel said.
"We are already deployed in Buta, a city that is not affected at all, but which will serve as a logistics platform. Then, within 72 hours, we are hoping to reach the medical staff who is currently active with the patients in very precarious conditions."
It generally takes two to three days to reach the area from Kinshasa. The area's isolation, however, is also a factor that may limit the spread of the deadly virus, Biosel said.
"In fact, these are areas with very low population density, where people live a little in almost complete self-sufficiency in the forest. There is little exchange and this is what allows the virus not to spread too quickly."
This is the eighth Ebola outbreak in the DRC since 1976. The last outbreak in DRC in the Boende region was unrelated to the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people.
The Ebola outbreak ravaged nations' economies, leaving young people unemployed and homeless in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.