Ebola outbreak kills 19 under one week in DR Congo

Henrietta Brewer
December 1, 2018

Dozens of armed rebel groups are active, and their deadly attacks have forced responders to pause crucial containment work for days.

This put the total cases over the 2000 Uganda outbreak (425) to become the second largest Ebola outbreak since it was "discovered" in 1976, only behind the 2014-2016 West Africa outbreak where 28,000 people were infected and some 11,000 died.

It is not clear how many Centres for Disease Control and Prevention workers are now forced to tackle the outbreak from DRC's capital, Kinshasa, almost 1 600km away.

In a situation report released Wednesday, WHO said it is "confident that the outbreak can be contained despite ongoing challenges".

Ebola has in the meantime killed 241 people, the ministry said in a statement late Tuesday. If malaria is reduced, health workers will be able to focus on real Ebola patients and keep others away from the wards.

Many venture out on critical virus containment work only with the accompaniment of United Nations peacekeepers while gunfire echoes daily.

Last month, the WHO heeded the recommendation of an expert advisory committee to not declare the Democratic Republic of the Congo's latest Ebola epidemic a public health emergency of worldwide concern - a proclamation that would have mobilized more resources and garnered global attention.

In a major concern for health workers, many new cases have been unconnected to known infections as the insecurity complicates efforts to track contacts of those with the disease.

North Kivu and Ituri are among the most populous provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and share borders with Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. More than 37,000 people have received Ebola vaccinations and Congo has begun the first-ever trial to test the effectiveness and safety of four experimental Ebola drugs.

"This tragic milestone clearly demonstrates the complexity and severity of the outbreak", Michelle Gayer, senior director of emergency health at the International Rescue Committee said in a statement.

"If the (U.S.) ban were not in place, the CDC would have a big and growing presence here", said Mearns, who worked closely with the CDC in West Africa's Ebola outbreak.

Ebola virus disease, which causes an often-fatal type of hemorrhagic fever, is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "Yes we need to see more funds and resources mobilized, but also address the impacts of the protracted conflict".

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