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As it prepares for coronavirus, Congo confirms a new Ebola case

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By Euronews  with AP
Health workers at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC, in 2019
Health workers at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC, in 2019   -   Copyright  AP

Just three days before Congo was expected to declare the end of its Ebola outbreak, a new case of the virus was confirmed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the new case was confirmed in Beni, a community that had been an epicentre of the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

WHO's Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said she was "sad" to hear about the new case, and said WHO was continuing to work with the country's health ministry to end Ebola.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief, said Congo's declaration of being Ebola-free had been planned for Monday. ``He said however: "We have been preparing for and expecting more cases."

The country had been hoping to end one global health emergency, as it braces for another - the arrival of the new coronavirus that has swept the globe.

"We'll just have to go for another 42 days, or the required period of time without a case for the Ebola outbreak to be declared over", said Mike Ryan, the emergencies chief for the WHO."

"Maybe that's our lesson for COVID-19: There is no exit strategy until you're in control of the situation,'' he added.

The Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 2,260 lives. The current outbreak declared in August 2018 has occurred in especially challenging conditions amid deadly rebel attacks, community suspicion and some of the world's weakest infrastructure in remote areas. Some Ebola responders have been attacked and killed.

Health workers had already been turning their Ebola messaging and other efforts to fighting the coronavirus.

"`This is a devastating development for the communities in eastern (Congo) who are also under threat from the coronavirus outbreak, in addition to ongoing conflict and displacement,'' Kate Moger, a regional vice president with the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement.