Ebola outbreak causes travel concerns for Democratic Republic of Congo

In August, there was an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since the first announcement on August 14th, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has kept UK nationals up to date while advising against all travel to several areas in the region.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to the provinces of Kasaï, Kasaï Central, Kasaï Oriental, Haut-Uele, Haut Lomami, Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema and Tanganyika, areas to the west and east of Kananga including Tshikapa and Mwene-Ditu, and within 50km of the border with the Central African Republic and South Sudan. These areas are known hot zones for the virus.

As well as the outbreak of the Ebola virus, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office also advise against all but essential travel to the cities of Goma and Bukavu, as well as travel to the districts of N’djili and Kimbanseke in Kinshasa. This is because there has been an increase in military and police stop-and-search checkpoints in parts of Kinshasa, especially after dark since 2017.

On August 1st, 2018, the Government for the Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed an outbreak of the Ebola virus in North Kivu province, originating in Béni territory. On August 14th, a case was confirmed in Ituri province. Since the last disease outbreak news which was published around the middle of September, five new confirmed cases of the virus have been reported – four from Beni and one from Butembo.

As of 18 September 2018, a total of 142 cases of the Ebola virus have been noted – including 111 confirmed cases and 31 possible cases. Of these, there have been 66 confirmed deaths, and 31 possible deaths yet to be confirmed as being caused by the virus. Thankfully, there is an overall decreasing trend in weekly case incidences.

The virus isn’t the only threat in this region, and travellers are asked to be as cautious as possible. The travel advice for any travellers or tourists that may find themselves in the noted regions is as follows:

  • Keep up to date with any local media for news of any planned protests – these can quickly become violent in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Avoid travelling around Kinshasa and other large cities on and around days of planned protests including travel to and from N’Djili airport.
  • Remain vigilant and be aware of disruptions to journeys around Kinshasa, as well as to and from N’Djili airport.
  • If a demonstration or disturbance takes place, leave quickly and don’t attempt to watch or photograph it.
  • Avoid all but essential travel to areas with confirmed cases of Ebola.

As of September 18th, 209 experts have been deployed by the World Health Organisation to support response activities. The World Health Organisation have announced that this outbreak of the Ebola virus (EVD) is affecting north-eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are potential risks for transmission of the virus at the national and regional levels, including the transportation links between the affected areas, the rest of the country, and neighbouring countries.



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