DRC Ebola outbreak passes 1000 cases

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FILE PHOTO: A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 18, 2018. REUTERS/Olivia Acland/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 18, 2018. REUTERS/Olivia Acland/File Photo

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, the country’s Health Ministry said on Monday, with a death toll of 629.

This is the world’s second worst Ebola outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, kills more than half of those it infects.

“We use words like ‘cases’ and ‘containment’ to be scientific, but behind every number is a person, a family and a community that is suffering,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General.

“This outbreak has gone on far too long. We owe it to the people of North Kivu to work with them in solidarity not only to end this outbreak as soon as possible, but to build the health systems that address the many other health threats they face on a daily basis.”

Health workers are better prepared and more than 96 000 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in DRC, along with health workers in Uganda and South Sudan, according to WHO.

Meanwhile, more than 44 million border screenings have helped to slow the spread of Ebola among the highly mobile population, with no cases having crossed international borders.

However, the risk of a national and regional spread remains very high. Efforts to contain the spread have been impeded by poor security and violence in the region, where numerous militia groups are active.

In Feburary, French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) suspend its activities after two of their treatment centres were attacked.

“The communities affected by this outbreak are already traumatized by conflict,” said Dr Tedros.

”Their fear of violence is now compounded by fear of Ebola. Community engagement takes time. There are no quick fixes. But we are learning and adapting to the evolving context every day.”

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