DRC set to exceed 2,000 Ebola cases in second largest outbreak ever

Monday, June 3, 2019
By Paul Martin

Violence by armed groups and community mistrust hamper attempts to halt epidemic

Jason Burke
Mon 3 Jun 2019

Aid agencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are set to announce that more than 2,000 people have been infected with Ebola since the outbreak was declared in August last year.

So far, there have been 1,994 confirmed and probable cases of infection with the virus, making the outbreak the second largest in history. New cases are being reported at a rate of around 10 every day. Some 1,339 people have died

Violence by armed groups and community mistrust have severely undermined attempts to halt the epidemic, forcing health workers to suspend vaccination and treatment work.

Last week, DRC’s military forces killed 26 rebels from one local militia in a clash near the city of Beni.

The acute insecurity has prevented vaccination teams from getting to some areas, while many people fear going to Ebola treatment centres, choosing instead to stay at home and risk transmitting the disease to carers and neighbours.

In some areas, health workers are afraid to wear protective equipment because they fear they will be targeted by armed groups, the World Health Organization has said.

“Community members do not trust medical staff and aid organisations, and are not coming into health facilities when they show Ebola symptoms,” said Tariq Riebl, emergency response director of the International Rescue Committee.

“In Butembo, the current epicentre of the outbreak, doctors and nurses are being threatened and health centres attacked regularly, hampering the response and forcing the IRC and other aid agencies to frequently suspend operations.”

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