Health

Ebola in Africa's Democratic Republic of Congo now has more than 2,000 infected

The current outbreak of the virus, beginning late July 2018, has claimed 1,346 lives in North Kivu and Ituri provinces until May.

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 06 June 2019
Ebola virus infects over 2,000 in DRC. Photos: Getty Images

Ebola virus disease has reportedly infected more than 2,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the last 10 months, an indication that the deadly disease may be far from under control, the Nature reported citing the World Health Organization (WHO).

The current outbreak, beginning late July 2018, has continued to spread and has infected an estimated 2,008 people in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces till May 2019. The disease claimed 1,346 lives.

While more than 350 deaths and over 600 cases were recorded in January, the number of cases crossed the 1,000 mark in March, according to the (WHO). As of March 26, there were a total of 1,029 confirmed cases, of which 642 died.

In just over two months, the cases have doubled in the DRC, the Nature report noted.

“I’m profoundly worried,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, was quoted as saying to Nature in May.

Mistrust on Ebola responders and assaults against them were identified as the key reason behind the failure to curtail the outbreak.

“The number of cases increases with the frequency of attacks,” he said.

With dozens of armed groups and communities opposing the government, the North Kivu has been the centre of violence. Tensions escalated when more than a million people from the province were barred from exercising their voting rights because of Ebola, a move that was suspected as a political invention to marginalise the opposition.

So far in 2019, the region has witnessed 174 attacks against health-care facilities or workers — a three-fold rise compared with the last five months of 2018, the WHO estimates. 

Such attacks hinder control efforts for Ebola responders working in communities, allowing the virus to spread undetected, especially among people who were not being monitored as contacts.

“On average our surveillance teams need to try to reach 20,000 people daily and this is not always possible especially when violence breaks out,” Tarik Jašarević, a WHO communications officer in Geneva, said in a statement. 

The current outbreak is the tenth such since Ebola was identified in 1976. In the deadliest chain in 2014, more than 11,000 died in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The need of then hour is for health workers to convince people to send their family members to treatment centres and get an experimental Ebola vaccine, the report suggested.

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