Aug 3, 2018

New Ebola outbreak declared in the Congo, this time in a war zone

Health workers operate within an Ebola safety zone in the Health Center in Iyonda, near Mbandaka, on June 1, 2018. Credit: JUNIOR D. KANNAH/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization is responding to another outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just a week after a previous outbreak was officially declared over.

Why it matters: The new outbreak poses a "high" local and regional threat, the WHO stated Friday, and doctors are facing a challenging setting for responding to this illness due to armed conflict in the area.

The big picture: The outbreak is occurring in the eastern part of the DRC, about 30 miles from the Ugandan border. Peter Salama, deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response at the WHO, said doctors may need to be escorted by armed guards while going out to villages to trace people who have come into contact with Ebola patients. “We’re at the top of the difficulty scale,” he said.

“Here we’re responding to an outbreak from a high threat pathogen with one of the highest mortality rates of any known diseases but in the context of a war zone"
— Peter Salama, WHO

So far, Salama said, about 20 deaths have been reported, and this number is expected to rise. "It's extremely likely that it's the Ebola Zaire strain," Salama said. This strain is the deadliest of the Ebola strains that have been identified so far. The virus can cause severe headaches, high fever, diarrhea and bleeding.

  • "We expect overall that the overall case count will rise in the coming days," Salama said.

Ebola outbreaks typically begin when humans come into contact with an animal that carries the virus, such as a bat, Salama said. "It usually starts with contact between humans and the animal kingdom."

The North Kivu Provence, where the outbreak is located, borders both Uganda and Rwanda, and has been in a state of conflict for most of the past 14 years, with thousands of people killed and more than a million displaced. It is home to the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world, with about 20,000 troops.

The new outbreak is about 1,500 miles from the location of the previous outbreak that was declared over in late July. Salama said authorities were not aware of the new cases at that time, and that it's unlikely this is an extension of the earlier outbreak.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 1,503,900 — Total deaths: 89,931 — Total recoveries: 340,112Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 432,579 — Total deaths: 14,830 — Total recoveries: 24,213Map.
  3. Business: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion — Another 6.6 million jobless claims were filed last week.
  4. Public health latest: Dr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  5. Travel update: TSA screened fewer than 100,000 people at airports in the U.S. on both Tuesday and Wednesday, compared to 2.2 million passengers on an average weekday a year ago.
  6. ☎️ Communication shift: Daily phone calls in the coronavirus era are outpacing Mother's Day.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion amid coronavirus crisis

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at a press conference in March. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it will support the coronavirus-hit economy with up to $2.3 trillion in loans to businesses, state and city governments — made possible in part by Treasury funds set aside in the government stimulus package.

Why it matters: The Fed has taken more action amid the coronavirus outbreak than it has in any other financial crisis in U.S. history in an effort to blunt the effects of the resulting economic shutdown.

DetailsArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Senate Democrats block Republicans' $250 billion PPP injection

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Before the Paycheck Protection Program formally launched last Friday, we knew two things: The rollout would be rocky, and the initial $350 billion wouldn't be enough for America's small businesses.

The state of play: Banks and government officials have been working to smooth out the process. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) attempt to pump another $250 billion into the program via unanimous consent was blocked by Democrats, who are proposing an alternative that includes billions more for hospitals and states.