A new case of Ebola has been detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo, sparking fears of a fresh community outbreak.
The country’s health ministry announced a woman from the town of Bienahas died in hospital just two days after developing symptoms of the deadly virus.
Her death comes nearly three months after the DRC announced the end to its 11th outbreak, which infected 130 people and killed 55 in Equateur.
The last person declared recovered from Ebola in Equateur was on October 16.
There are concerns the DRC could be entering the start of its 12th Ebola outbreak after the woman was found with symptoms in the town of Biena on February 1 and died in hospital in Butembo on February 3.
She was married to a man who had contracted Ebola 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 health ministry said in a statement.
The DRC has had more than double the number of outbreaks than any other country since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976.
The latest outbreak affecting Congo’s Equateur province overlapped with an earlier one in North Kivu running from August 1, 2018 to June 25, 2020 that killed more than 2200 people.
The Kivu outbreak was declared the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history and the deadliest in the DRC.
The emergence of more cases could complicate efforts to eradicate COVID-19, which has infected 23,600 people and killed 681 in the DRC.
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 diarrhoea and is spread through contact with body fluids.
The biggest Ebola epidemic was in West Africa from 2014 to 2016.