The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province on 8 May 2018. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest situation report (dated: 14 May 2018) (see: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/SITREP-EVD-DRC-20180514.pdf), a total of 41 cases of viral haemorrhagic fever have been reported, with two EVD cases laboratory confirmed and the remainder of the cases still classified as suspected (n=17) or probable (n=22). These numbers will fluctuate in the coming days and weeks as investigations continue. These cases were reported from the three health zones of Bikoro, Oboko and Mbandaka located in the Equateur Province. The latter is situated on the northwest border of the DRC. As at 14 May 2018, more than 400 potential contacts have been identified and are being monitored, more than half of the contacts were from the Bikoro Health Zone.
The current outbreak is the ninth outbreak of EVD in the DRC. Local experience in dealing with EVD outbreaks are being bolstered through the support of the WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières and other international partners. The deployment of the first EVD vaccine to assist in the outbreak containment efforts is a landmark event and set to change the way that outbreaks will be managed in the future (see: http://www.who.int/ebola/drc-2018/faq-vaccine/en/).
The WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied to DRC. Given the current situation, including the extent of the outbreak and responses to the outbreak, the WHO does not currently consider the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (or PHEIC) (see: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/SITREP-EVD-DRC-20180514.pdf). The risk for national spread within the DRC as well as to the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic is considered high but the risk of international spread, including to South Africa is considered to be low. There are no special precautions or directives for commercial flights, passengers or crew departing on flights bound for DRC or returning from DRC. The regulations for evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate apply. Precautions against malaria should be applied as per routine practice. Malaria must be considered a high priority in the investigation and management of any febrile traveller.