Ebola OUTBREAK: Two DR Congo soldiers latest to die, fuelling fears deadly virus SPREADING

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
By Paul Martin

A DEADLY outbreak of Ebola in a conflict-ridden region of Congo has claimed the lives of two soldiers as its latest victims, the country’s army said on Tuesday.

Wed, Jan 30, 2019

The outbreak has killed some 400 people in six months, as attacks by armed groups on health workers have hampered efforts to contain the disease, army and health sources said. Army spokesman Major Mak Hazukay told AFP: “Two of our soldiers have died from the Ebola virus in Beni. Three others are under observation. All necessary measures have been taken to stop the troops from being contaminated.”

Doctor Michel Tosalisa, responsible for the affected Beni region, confirmed the soldiers had died from Ebola.

The two men brought the total toll to 459 recorded deaths, according to official data, and have also shone a harsh light on the difficulty of containing the epidemic in DR Congo’s conflict-torn east, where the virus has thrived.

In eastern and northern parts of the central African country, 682 confirmed cases of Ebola have been recorded and 54 probable cases, the health ministry said on Monday.

From the 459 Ebola deaths recorded, 405 were confirmed and 54 probable.

Health workers have saved 257 Ebola patients, the ministry added. Once present in humans, Ebola causes haemorrhagic fever, severe vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through direct contact with body fluids. It is often fatal.

The fight against Ebola depends on tracing people who may have had contact with the disease and could fall ill and spread it further.

But the epidemic is in regions where frequent fighting is hobbling containment efforts, making it hard for health workers to move around and monitor potential victims and raise awareness on prevention and protection measures.

Most of the reported cases this past month have been in Katwa health zone, where the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Ebola workers faced “pockets of community mistrust” and most of those falling sick were not on lists of people suspected of coming into contact with the virus.

Late last week, the WHO said the outbreak had spread to the south into an area with high security risks.

The UN health agency said in a statement issued on Thursday: “The outbreak has also extended southwards to Kayina health zone, a high security risk area.”

Five people were reported ill in Kayina, which is wedged between the main affected zone and Goma, a big city close to the Rwandan border.

The WHO said it was taking measures to prevent Ebola from spreading into neighbouring countries.

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