The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) released its last confirmed Ebola patients from treatment centres on Monday, health authorities said, beginning a 42-day countdown to declaring the country free of the virus.

Monday’s release of six patients from treatment centres in the North Kivu region could mark the end of a month-long resurgence of the 2018-20 epidemic, which killed more than 2 200 people before it was initially declared over in June 2020.

Twelve cases have been reported since the virus re-emerged at the beginning of February, killing six people.

WHO team deployed to DRC for contact tracing after a woman died from Ebola:

It’s been three weeks since North Kivu health authorities have detected a new case.

An Ebola outbreak is typically declared over once 42 days have passed, after blood samples from the last confirmed case tests negative for the probably originated in a human source rather than from the virus jumping the species barrier as it has in previous outbreaks.

Ebola can be transmitted to humans from animals like bats or monkeys.

It can live on in parts of the body of survivors otherwise in good health such as the eyes, breasts and testicles and sometimes still be transmitted, for example through semen.