3 December 2018

Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Ebola Eruption Second Deadliest in History

Photo: John Wessels
A caretaker already cured from Ebola is seen carrying a four day old baby suspected of having ebola, into a MSF supported Ebola Treatment Centre(ETC) in Butembo.

Kinshasa — THE ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is now the second worst such eruption in history.

At least 245 deaths have been recorded.

This surpasses the 2000-01 outbreak in Uganda by over 20 deaths, making it second only behind the 2014 West Africa outbreak which killed over 11 000 people.

It is projected the outbreak in DRC, ongoing since October, will continue for at least another six months.

Ongoing conflict in North Kivu Province, where more than 50 armed groups are operating, has affected the emergency response.

Spikes in violence have forced the suspension of efforts to contain the spread of the disease. Some 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, complicating matters further.

Michelle Gayer, Senior Director of Emergency Health at the International Rescue Committee, said while the numbers were far lower than those from West Africa in 2014, a prolonged outbreak was underway in the DRC.

"We fear that hundreds more people will lose their life in this outbreak," he lamented.

Gayer warned insecurity, community resistance and failing health services were worsening the outbreak.

"The international community must continue to pay attention to this crisis or it will likely spiral, costing further lives and possibly spreading over national borders."

Ebola and a rebellion by armed groups are likely to impact on general elections set for December 23.

DRC is fraught with tensions after President Joseph Kabila failed to organise polls.

In power since 2001, the strongman is not contesting the upcoming election.

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