Kinshasa/Nairobi/Geneva, 2 August – The response to the presumptive positive outbreak of Ebola in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will be “highly complex”, according to a senior public health expert at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The DRC Ministry of Health reported that four samples from patients in the health area of Mangina in North Kivu province tested positive for Ebola. These results still require full confirmatory testing in the capital, Kinshasa.

Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa, said: “We anticipate an extremely challenging operational environment, given the fact that the presumptive outbreak is occurring in an area affected by conflict, and that is close to both a major population centre and an international border.

These cases are also a reminder – an unnecessary reminder – of the high vulnerability of communities in DRC. In parallel to this, communities are also dealing with malaria and with outbreaks of other types of haemorrhagic fever that can cause similar symptoms,” said Dr Nafo-Traoré.

The DRC Red Cross has a strong in-country capacity to respond to Ebola, with 60,000 volunteers across the country. Red Cross teams in DRC played a significant role in containing the recent Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province, as well as all the previous ones since the disease was first identified in 1976.

IFRC is ready to provide technical and financial support to local Red Cross response efforts on the ground. This could include redeploying personnel involved in the Ebola response in Equateur Province, as well as the deployment of new experts if necessary.