Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo could ‘get even worse if political instability remains and public mistrust grows’ as killer outbreak reaches 600 confirmed cases

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
By Paul Martin

‘Worst case scenario’ is imminent if political conflict continues, experts said
Results of the December election heightened mistrust over concerns of fraud
The death toll currently stands at 390 as health teams try to contain the spread

15 January 2019

The killer Ebola outbreak in the Democratic of Congo will only get worse if political instability continues to break the public’s trust, experts fear.

Professor Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease expert and director of the Wellcome Trust, said there is ‘nothing to stop’ the epidemic spiralling into ‘worst case scenario’ as a result of ongoing political conflict.

Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner after the DRC’s presidential elections on December 30, which took place two years behind schedule.

But accusations that the results of the first uncontested democratic transfer of power after 18 years don’t ‘add up’ are threatening more violence.

As a result the ‘public health will suffer’, as confidence in authorities is essential for containing the virus – considered one of the most lethal in existence.

Ebola has already struck 649 people, killing 396 of them as of January 13, according to figures from the DRC’s health ministry.

Professor Farrar, who recently visited the DRC with a WHO leadership team, said: ‘The worst case scenario is that political instability remains, mistrust grows … and then there’s nothing to stop the epidemic getting embedded into a big urban centre and taking off as it did in West Africa.’

The breakout is the second largest in history after the 2014 West Africa Ebola that lasted for two years, infecting 28,000 and killing more than 11,300.

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