Congo Ebola death toll nears 1,000, expected to spread


The health ministry declared that the fatality number of the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has exceeded 1,000.

"We are anticipating a scenario of continued, intense transmission", he added. "We want to use every tool in the tool box".

Ebola broke out in North Kivu in August 2018 and spread to neighbouring province, Ituri.

But in recent weeks senior WHO officials have conceded that insecurity, scarce financial resources and local politicians turning people against health workers had seriously undermined the containment effort. The vaccine is experimental, but is estimated to be 97.5 percent effective.

But beyond the militias, communities in the aftermath of DRC's December elections "are being manipulated" against cooperating with Ebola responders, Ryan said.

Ebola treatment centers have come under repeated attack, and a Cameroonian epidemiologist working with World Health Organization was killed last month during an assault on a hospital in Butembo city at the outbreak's epicenter.

With violent attacks on communities and medical centers, a "considerable" rise in Ebola cases has occurred over the past week in Congo, said the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee suspend operations in the towns of Butembo and Kutwa.

Christoph Vogel, a former United Nations expert on the DRC and a researcher with the UK-based London School of Economics' Conflict Research Programme, said there were a "host of different factors" complicating the medical response and warned the recent attacks showed the climate on the ground was "extremely poisoned".

"Since October 2018 the number of safe and dignified burials requested from communities has tripled, and this kind of work needs to continue if we are going to beat this disease", said Nicole Fassina.

Ebola is a highly infectious disease that causes a fever and often leads to massive internal bleeding and death. More than 36 percent believed the epidemic was fabricated to destabilise the area.

Ilunga, for her part, admitted some people in the "historically neglected" eastern DRC "didn't believe" Ebola existed and said there were "several types of attack" being committed against health workers, all of which were "detrimental" to efforts to defeat the virus.

A ministry statement sent to dpa said 1,008 people have now died from the virus, while 1,529 cases have been recorded.

A health worker checks the temperature of people disembarking from a plane at the airport in Kinshasa, Congo.