4 May 2019

Congo-Kinshasa: Ebola Outbreak 'Worsening;' Over 1,000 Dead

Photo: John Wessels
Health workers escort a new unconfirmed Ebola patient to the reception, at a newly build MSF supported Ebola treatment centre in Bunia (file photo).

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo is “worsening” and has killed more than 1,000 people.

IFRC said Saturday that in the past week, 23 cases were reported in one day, a record number since the start of the outbreak in 2018.

The DRC health ministry said Friday the Ebola death toll has risen to 1,008.

Violence helps cases spike

Violence has complicated efforts to contain the second most deadly Ebola virus outbreak in history, as the number of new cases increases each time treatment and prevention work is disrupted.

Many people are afraid to go to Ebola treatment centers because of the violence. They may instead choose to stay home where they run the risk of infecting their caretakers and neighbors.

“We are at a critical juncture where we need to step up our support to communities that are facing greater risk of infection, yet Ebola responders face massive security challenges and a lack of resources for the response,” said Nicole Fassina, IFRC Ebola Virus Disease Coordinator. “An under-resourced operation creates a very real risk of an international spread of Ebola,” she added.

“We are dealing with a difficult and volatile situation,” said Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director of emergencies program. “We are anticipating a scenario of continued, intense transmission.”

Insecurity has become a “major impediment,” Ryan said.

The most deadly Ebola outbreak occurred in West Africa in 2014. More than 11,000 people had been killed by 2016.

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