Saturday December 14, 2019

Congo’s Escalating Ebola Epidemic Exceeds 1,000 Cases Making it World’s Second-Worst Outbreak

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid group, cautioned that case numbers were on the rise and the outbreak could last another six to 12 months in a region beset by violence and poverty

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FILE - Health workers are seen inside the "red zone" of an Ebola treatment center, which was attacked in the early hours of March 9, 2019, in Butembo. VOA

Congo’s Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, the country’s health ministry said Monday, with a death toll of about 629 in the world’s second-worst outbreak.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid group, cautioned that case numbers were on the rise and the outbreak could last another six to 12 months in a region beset by violence and poverty.

Here are some key facts and figures about Ebola:

* The world’s worst epidemic of Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever, began in Guinea in December 2013 and swept through Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 11,300 people.

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The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid group, cautioned that case numbers were on the rise. Pixabay

* Ebola causes fever, flu-like pains, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea and spreads among humans through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person.

* The world’s second-biggest outbreak of Ebola began in August 2018 in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

* By March 2019, Congo’s Ebola outbreak surpassed 1,000 cases with a death toll of 629 and spread to the city of Bunia, the second-largest city in eastern Congo.

* The IRC said in the past week there had been 58 new reported cases — the highest number in a week in 2019.

Congo’s Health Ministry said Monday that the Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, with a death toll of 629. Pixabay

* Its staff were working in about 59 health clinics to train health workers to recognize symptoms and safely triage and transfer suspected Ebola patients to treatment centers.

* Five Ebola centers have been attacked since February 2019.

ALSO READ: 13 Million in Congo Suffer from ‘Hunger’ and ‘Malnutrition’: UN

* The head of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) earlier in March warned that the battle against Ebola was being lost because ordinary people did not trust health workers and the response was overly militarized. (VOA)

Next Story

Congo: Volatile Security Situation Stymies Efforts to End Ebola

The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola cases has decreased and stabilized over the past few weeks.

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Patients waiting for prescriptions to be filled by the hospital pharmacy sit underneath a sign warning about the symptoms of Ebola, at Kibogora district hospital, near Lake Kivu and close to the border with Congo, in western Rwanda, Nov. 4, 2019. VOA

The World Health Organization says that dangers posed by armed groups in two eastern Democratic Republic of Congo provinces are impeding progress in the battle to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.  Latest reports put the number of confirmed Ebola cases at 3,287, including 2,193 deaths.

International health workers have achieved a lot since the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo was declared in August 2018. The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola cases has decreased and stabilized over the past few weeks.

While that is encouraging, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier says “we are not out of the woods yet.”

“The risk of re-introduction of Ebola into former hotspots remains high and is…contingent on the level of access and security in these communities,” Lindmeier siad. “So, the outbreak has been and is occurring in an extremely complex environment, marked by poor infrastructure, political instability, as you heard, community mistrust of national authorities and outsiders and ongoing conflict involving scores of armed…militia groups.”

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International health workers have achieved a lot since the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo was declared in August 2018. Pixabay

Despite a recent decrease in the number of security incidents, attacks on health care workers and facilities remain unacceptably high.  From January to October, the WHO has documented more than 300 attacks, causing five deaths and 70 injuries of health care workers and patients.

And, last week, a health care worker was killed in his home and his wife critically injured.

The DRC has always been an area of high mobility. The armed conflict in the region has caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.   But people move around for other reasons as well. Lindmeier tells VOA among those on the move are infected people who could spread the virus.

“Because they were moving, we cannot be too optimistic about ending this soon,” Lindmeier siad. “As I said in the beginning, the weekly number of cases have stabilized over the past few weeks, but we are not, definitely not out of the woods yet and should not cry victory…before we are at the end of this.”

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The WHO notes Ebola hotspots have shifted from urban areas to more rural, hard-to-reach communities.  It says that, plus the extremely volatile security situation, creates additional challenges in hunting down the virus. (VOA)