A new case of the Ebola virus has been detected in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo near the city of Butembo, and the infected person has died, the health ministry said on Sunday.
A woman was found with symptoms of the deadly virus in the town of Biena on Feb. 1 and died in hospital in Butembo on Feb. 3. She was married to a man who had contracted the virus in a previous outbreak.
“The provincial response team is already hard at work. It will be supported by the national response team which will visit Butembo shortly,” the statement said.
The announcement potentially marks the start of Congo’s 12th Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976, more than double any other country.
It comes nearly three months after Congo announced the end to its 11th outbreak hundreds of miles away in the west, which infected 130 people and killed 55. That outbreak overlapped with an earlier one in the east that killed more than 2,200 people, the second-most in the disease’s history.
The emergence of more cases could complicate efforts to eradicate COVID-19, which has infected 23,600 people and killed 681 in Democratic Republic of Congo. A vaccination campaign is expected to start in the first half of this year.
Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and is spread through contact with body fluids.