Monday October 21, 2019

Ebola Outbreak in Congo “Worsening”, Over 1,000 Dead: IFRC

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

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ebola outbreak
Medical staff and an Ebola survivor treat Ebola patient Ibrahim Mupalalo inside the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit at The Alliance for International Medical Action Ebola treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 31, 2019. VOA

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.

ebola outbreak
Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization, attends a news conference on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the United Nations in Geneva, May 3, 2019. VOA

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.

ALSO READ: Congo Lists Record of 27 New Ebola Cases in One Day, Raising the Number to 126

“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. (VOA)

Next Story

World’s Largest Measles Outbreak Kills More than 4,000 People in Congo this Year

The Central African nation is also battling an Ebola outbreak that has killed about half that number since August 2018

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FILE - A child is immunized against measles at a clinic in eastern Congo, Nov. 13, 2008. VOA

More than 4,000 people have died in Congo this year in the world’s largest measles outbreak, the United Nations children’s agency said Wednesday.

The Central African nation is also battling an Ebola outbreak that has killed about half that number since August 2018.

Since January, more than 200,000 cases of measles have been reported across Congo, UNICEF said. More than 140,000 involve children under 5, who also make up nearly 90 percent of deaths.

“We’re facing this alarming situation because millions of Congolese children miss out on routine immunization and lack access to health care when they fall sick,” said the UNICEF country representative, Edouard Beigbeder. “On top of that, a weak health system, insecurity, community mistrust of vaccines and vaccinators, and logistical challenges all contribute to a huge number of unvaccinated children at risk of contracting the disease.”

World, Measles, Congo
FILE – Health workers wearing protective gear check on a patient isolated in a plastic cube at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo, July 13, 2019. VOA

Health officials are facing many of the same challenges in the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo that has killed more than 2,000 people. Multiple armed groups have been fighting over the mineral-rich land for decades and threatening residents. The insecurity has led to mistrust of authorities, including health workers.

UNICEF said health workers were rushing additional medical kits to help care for more than 110,000 people infected with the measles, a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. More than 1.4 million children have been vaccinated this year.

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The U.N. agency said Congo’s government will launch a vaccination campaign at the end of October to make sure children in every province are vaccinated. (VOA)