WHO warns new Ebola outbreak in Congo faces funding gap

The World Health Organization is warning that money to tackle a new outbreak of Ebola in Congo could run out within weeks

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo -- The World Health Organization said Tuesday it is facing a “serious funding gap” to battle the new outbreak of Ebola in remote corners of northern Congo amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Already there have been 24 deaths since the outbreak was declared on June 1. The emergence of Ebola in Congo's northern Equateur province came just as the world's second deadliest Ebola outbreak was nearing its end.

The funding shortage threatens to unravel early gains in this epidemic. When Equateur province last had Ebola cases in 2018, it took health officials two weeks to start vaccinating people. This time around, vaccination teams were mobilized within four days of the outbreak declaration, Moeti said.

At least 2,280 people died of Ebola over the nearly two-year span of the epidemic in eastern Congo before it ended on June 25.

Previous outbreaks in northern Congo have been more limited — the 2018 one killed 33 people before it was brought under control within months.

Congolese health officials have determined through genetic sequencing that the new outbreak in the north is unrelated to the epidemic in the east,

———

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.