Thursday May 23, 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

WHO to Strengthen Strategies to Combat Ebola Epidemic in Congo

The WHO's latest report counted 1,738 cases of Ebola in Congo, including 1,218 deaths

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FILE - A priest watches as health workers dressed in Ebola protective suits prepare the body of an Ebola patient for burial at the Ebola treatment center in Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 26, 2019. VOA

A panel of World Health Organization experts says strategies must be strengthened to combat the worsening Ebola epidemic in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The WHO’s latest report counted 1,738 cases of Ebola in Congo, including 1,218 deaths.

Congo’s minister of health, Oly Ilungo, likened the Ebola epidemic to a multi-headed dragon. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the epidemic began in one place, Mangina, but keeps popping up elsewhere.

“Our response, therefore, needs to continually adapt itself to the situation,” said Ilungo. “We need to continually adapt and change our strategy bearing in mind lessons learned.”

He said prevention measures, surveillance, the tracing of infected people, timely treatment and safe burial practices must be maintained. At the same time, he said old tools need to be refreshed and improved.

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FILE – Victorine Siherya, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment center in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 25, 2019. VOA

He proposed setting up a data-driven system, which compiles all the information produced in the response effort.

“Increasingly, it manages to carry out analyses that allow us to get ahead of the problem and we can identify the danger areas where there might be a greater risk of the virus spreading and we can get ahead of the problem,” he added.

The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, finds the increasing number of new Ebola cases extremely worrying and challenging. She warned the risk of the disease spreading beyond Congo’s borders is very high.

She said the DRC’s nine neighboring countries are aware of the dangers and, with the help of the WHO, have taken many steps to prepare for that possibility.

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An Ebola health worker is seen at a treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo, April, 16, 2019. The World Health Organization is warning it may not be possible to contain Ebola to the two affected provinces in eastern Congo if violent attacks on health teams continue. VOA

ALSO READ: “EPA Will No Longer Fund Children’s Health Research”, Say Researchers

“We have 16 Ebola-treatment centers and units having been established across the nine countries,” she said. “And, in addition over 4,500 health workers have been trained to be able to detect and manage these cases.The countries have continued to engage with communities to raise their awareness in all high-risk areas.”

WHO officials are appealing for intensified international political engagement and financial support to combat Ebola. They warn the further spread of the dangerous disease would have serious social and economic regional implications and would trigger an even greater crisis. (VOA)