WHO declares Congo Ebola free

The World Health Organization declared the Democratic Republic of Congo Ebola free this week. | World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is officially over. 

As of Thursday, it had been 42 days since the last Ebola virus case tested negative twice and the patient was discharged from the hospital. An Ebola outbreak is considered over after 42 days have passed without a new case, the WHO said. The 42 days is twice the maximum incubation period for the virus.

The outbreak started on Aug. 24 in Jeer County, Equateur Province in the Congo. While it is unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa, the country had 66 total cases of Ebola, which included eight health care workers. Of those cases, 49 patients, including the health care workers, died. 

This latest outbreak is the seventh Ebola outbreak in the country since the virus was first identified in the Congo in 1976, the WHO said.

WHO officials commended the country's “strong leadership and effective coordination of the response” that led to the end of the outbreak. The country mobilized an expert response team to the affected areas of the country.

That early engagement “played a key role” in containing the outbreak, the WHO said.

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