Ebola outbreak cases hit 1000 in DR Congo

Health workers in DR Congo carrying victims of the Ebola outbreak (Getty Images)

It has been 8 months since an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo and since then, the number of people known to have contracted the disease has exceeded 1,000.

The figure, which was confirmed by the country’s health ministry, makes the outbreak the second largest ever recorded. In 2014, an Ebola outbreak in West Africa claimed 11,000 lives, according to the World Health Organization.

Since August last year, 629 people have died with 58 new cases already reported this week, the highest number in a week in 2019.

“This is a reminder that the outbreak is still not under control and much is needed to be done,” said Tariq Riebl, a response director for a leading aid group, the International Rescue Committee (IRC). He added that Ebola cases were still on the rise, instead of declining as expected.

Mistrust and security issues have hampered treatment efforts with insecurity and violence leading many agencies, including the IRC and WHO, to being forced to frequently suspend programs. Just last month, militants attacked an Ebola treatment center, killing a police officer while in February, two treatment centers were attacked forcing some humanitarian efforts to be put on hold. Following the attacks, several infectious patients were let out.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reaffirmed its commitment to ending the outbreak and working with the government and local communities to build resilient health systems. The organization has more than 700 people working in DRC.

WHO confirmed that 96,000 people had been vaccinated against Ebola in DRC, along with health workers in Uganda and South Sudan.

The IRC projected that the outbreak could last another 6 to 12 months.