Ebola Outbreak Claim 19 Lives Within Five Days in DR Congo

Posted December 02, 2018

Towns such as Beni, North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are battling the worst ebola outbreak in the nation's history while also fending off an eight-fold increase in malaria cases since previous year.

According to the Health Ministry, among the 426 cases of reported hemorrhagic fever, 379 of them were confirmed to be Ebola cases.

Last month, the WHO heeded the recommendation of an expert advisory committee to not declare the Democratic Republic of the Congo's latest Ebola epidemic a public health emergency of worldwide concern - a proclamation that would have mobilized more resources and garnered global attention. Some 365 of those cases and 189 of the deaths are confirmed.

Armed groups have kidnapped and killed people trying to treat the sick, and ongoing conflict has made locals suspicious of official health workers.

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It is not clear how many Centres for Disease Control and Prevention workers are now forced to tackle the outbreak from DRC's capital, Kinshasa, almost 1 600km away.

The outbreak has been plagued by security problems, with health workers attacked by rebels in districts where the virus has been spreading.

Malaria can normally be diagnosed with a rapid blood test, but the risk of Ebola transmission means health workers have to rely on an assessment of symptoms, he said.

Having started on August 1, it is the 10th outbreak in the country since the disease, which causes extreme fever, bleeding and diarrhoea, was first discovered there 42 years ago.

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Health workers on Wednesday launched a door-to-door, four-day blitz to control malaria in Democratic Republic of Congo with the aim of cutting suspected Ebola cases in half.

"No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are now experiencing", the Congolese health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said in a November 9 statement.

He added that it was "highly likely" that the outbreak would not be under control for another six months.

Ebola has killed 240 people and infected more than 400 since July in an outbreak that shows little sign of abating. "These trials will contribute to building that knowledge, while we continue to respond on every front to bring the current outbreak to an end. Is there potential for requiring global response?"

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This is what happened in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, when people with malaria were filling Ebola treatment centres during the West African outbreak in 2014, he said.