Experience in fighting Ebola will help end COVID-19, says DRC official

In this Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, file photo, Nigerian health officials wait to screen passengers at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. A Nigerian nurse who treated a man with Ebola is now dead and five others are sick with one of the world’s most virulent diseases, authorities said Wednesday, as the death toll rose to at least 932 people in four West African countries. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

The fight against the COVID-19 could benefit from the experience in fighting the Ebola epidemic, the head of the laboratory of the National Biomedical Research Institute said on Tuesday.

Jean-Jacques Muyembe, also the Coordinator in Charge of the Fight Against the Ebola Virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said this in Kinshasa.

The current panic caused by the novel coronavirus, which is very similar to that by the Ebola virus, is due to the fact that people were not prepared for or accustomed to these new diseases, said Muyembe.

The Congolese epidemiologist said that it had taken a long time to develop Ebola drugs and vaccines, and the experience could be used to help speed up the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Muyembe indicated that there was a strong similarity between the COVID-19 and the Ebola epidemic, which is still raging in the DRC.

But the panic that the coronavirus has caused is due to a high death rate of severe cases around the world.

In his opinion, the measures applied against the Ebola epidemic can also be taken against the coronavirus and they are compatible to fight against the two viruses, in particular washing hand and wearing masks.

The big challenge for scientists is to identify the “reservoir” of the Ebola virus since its appearance in the DRC.

”The same is true with the coronavirus. No one is able to identify animals carrying the virus in the community”, Muyembe added.

Although the DRC has not blocked the cities hit by the Ebola epidemic, the country has isolated those confirmed cases, said the Congolese epidemiologist, lauding the vigorous measures adopted by China to prevent the circulation of the virus.

“The political will that we are seeing in China is the only way to contain the epidemic.

“The people of the affected country are very committed and participate massively in the fight against the epidemic by observing the prevention measures,” Muyembe said.

In his view, the rapid spread of the virus in a populous country like China requires vigorous measures to contain death and infection in other parts of the world pending effective treatment.

To fight against epidemics, public and political commitments are necessary.

“We have also seen what is happening in China. There is already a strong political commitment and the population also participates in this fight,” he added.

“This is what is important for us to cut the chain of transmission,” Muyembe said. (Xinhua/NAN)


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