Officials launch an emergency search after 24 Ebola patients break out of a treatment centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid fears the killer virus will spread

Friday, December 28, 2018
By Paul Martin

At least 336 people are now believed to have died in the DRC’s Ebola outbreak
The virus began spreading in August and local violence makes it hard to control
Patients escaped when political protesters attacked an aid workers’ camp

28 December 2018

Ebola patients have escaped from a treatment centre at the heart of an outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Two dozen potentially contagious people broke out of a medical centre in Beni, in the north-east of the African country, when it was attacked yesterday.

Seven of the 24 have been tracked down but the search is on for the remaining 17 who, if infected, could spread the virus if back out in public.

At least 336 people have died in the ongoing outbreak, which began in August and has infected more than 500 people.

Violence has been making it difficult to stop Ebola spreading and things worsened when a general election was postponed this month.

The patients who escaped were being held in a camp with suspected Ebola but hadn’t yet been confirmed.

Demonstrators attacked the camp after elections planned for Sunday, December 23, were postponed because of fears of violence and the Ebola outbreak.

‘Of 24 patients, 17 had tested negative (for Ebola) once. They had to be tested a second time before being discharged,’ said a spokeswoman for DRC’s health ministry.

‘Four of them went home. Three other suspected cases were in too serious a case to flee.’

But some of the demonstrators went into contaminated zones of the camp, according to one aid worker, adding more potential for the spread of the virus.

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