Ebola outbreak warning: Deadly disease SPREADS as Congo announces shock BAN

Thursday, October 11, 2018
By Paul Martin

The deadly Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo has killed at least 118 people since July and continues to spread at a dizzying pace, with 1-2 new confirmed cases a day in recent weeks, Congo’s Health Ministry said as authorities announce plans to place a ban on harbouring suspected Ebola patients.

Thu, Oct 11, 2018

Attacks by armed rebel groups and mistrust of health workers have hampered containment efforts, forcing local officials to issue a ban on harbouring suspected Ebola patients.

Health officials said they would be tightening their response to the country’s second major outbreak of the disease this year after seven new cases were confirmed in less than 24 hours.

Six of the cases were recorded in Beni, a city of several hundred thousand people where scores have been confirmed infected.

Beni is one of the strongholds of the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan Islamist group active in the region that has launched several bloody attacks on civilians in recent years.

The seventh case was recorded in the town of Masereka, some 100km away.

Congolese authorities said the disease was threatening to rapidly spiral out of control because of attacks by armed rebel groups and community resistance to measures to fight the outbreak, and warned they would struggle to contain it without the support of the local population.

Residents of eastern Congo have attacked health workers and refused to cooperate with government efforts to combat Ebola there.

Three volunteers from the Congolese Red Cross were attacked by villagers last week while trying to carry out a safe burial of an Ebola victim, prompting the suspension of some burials in the area.

Two of the volunteers were seriously wounded in the attack, which the Red Cross says is the most violent incident against health workers to date.

In response, authorities on Wednesday announced a ban on harbouring suspected Ebola patients and promised police protection for health workers performing burials, in an effort to ward off local resistance to efforts to combat the disease.

Health officials said the decree would impose a jail term of up to three months on those who hide suspected Ebola sufferers. The ban was signed into law later on Wednesday, according to Beni’s mayor Jean Edmond Nyonyi Bwanakawa.

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