Summary of the major activities
The resurgence of EVD cases in DRC in February 2021 came at a time when the EVD operation was scaling down, with the handover of activities and resources to DRC Red Cross in preparation for the planned end of the operation on 30 June 2021. With the resurgence of EVD cases, the Emergency Appeal was revised on 31 March, extending the timeframe until September 2021. There is now a critical funding gap of CHF 5 million which is needed to support DRC Red Cross to maintain its operational capacity up until at least the end of September 2021, to contribute to the containment of the current outbreak, and to allow for continued presence and readiness throughout the enhanced surveillance period.
On 6 February 2021, EVD confirmation was made by the national medical research organization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (INRB) laboratory in Butembo of a case of the Ebola virus disease in a sample taken from a patient in the Masoya health area (Biena health zone). On 7 February 2021, the announcement of the resurgence of the EVD by the Minister of Public Health led to the establishment of a provincial team to coordinate response activities in Butembo in collaboration with partners. The first suspected patient was admitted to a health centre in Biena before being referred to the Matanda hospital in Butembo where she eventually died on 3 February. She was the wife of an Ebola survivor.
Following this, the DRC RC, with support from IFRC organised strategy meetings to immediately start response activities that would minimise the spread of the disease. Red Cross teams were activated in four health zones: Musienene, Biena, Butembo and Katwa and engaged in the response to provide services such as infection prevention and control (IPC), community mobilisation and awareness-raising, psychosocial support (PSS) and, if necessary, safe and dignified burials (SDB).
Since the beginning of the epidemic, there have been 11 confirmed cases and 1 probable case, 6 deaths recorded (case fatality rate of 50%). Two health workers were among those infected. On 21 March 2021, laboratory tests for the last confirmed patient in the Ebola treatment centre (ETC) came back negative and the patient was discharged. There have been more than 40 days since the last case was reported with the continuation of the countdown to end of epidemic ongoing. A total of 1,898 people have been vaccinated, including 1,169 in Biena, 360 in Katwa, 297 in Butembo and 72 in Musienene. Of the 1,898 people, 542 (28.6%) are frontline health service providers.
Revised Emergency Appeal no. 7 was published on 1April 2021 in light of the resurgence of the Ebola Virus seeking further support to contain the outbreak quickly. The operation time frame was also to be extended to 30 September 2021, given the minimum surveillance period required even if the transmission quickly ended.
Since the 29 of March 2021, there have been demonstrations by the local populations because of increased insecurity in Bunia and North Kivu provinces. This led to the suspension of Red Cross volunteers’ activities in Beni and Butembo for the past two weeks as the security situation is monitored.
To date, the following activities have been carried out by the DRC RC and IFRC teams:
Volunteers undertaking community engagement activities reached 15,010 people in four health zones with messaging on Ebola disease, its cause, prevention, treatment and vaccination.
Infection prevention and control (IPC) activities led to the revival of health committees of 10 health facilities that were assessed for support to improve their IPC standards. Butembo base was rehabilitated to improve IPC standards.
The rapid response teams (RRTs) received 309 alerts that were responded to with 130 patients transfers conducted.