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  •  Congolese woman and her children who are suspected Ebola patients sit at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo

    Congolese woman and her children who are suspected Ebola patients sit at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 June 2019 (4 hours 22 minutes ago)

More than 2,000 people have contracted the Ebola virus and 1,346 have died since the outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Over 2,000 cases of Ebola have been recorded since the outbreak of the epidemic 10 months ago, prompting health agencies to express concern over the rapid spread of the disease, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Public Health said Tuesday. 

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The Ministry of Public Health said in a bulletin released on Monday evening that the number of cases is now 2,008 people infected by the virus with 1914 confirmed and 94 probable. In total, some 1,346 have died so far.

The epidemic, which broke out in August 2018, is the 10th one on D.R.C. since 1976 and the second most serious in the history of the disease after the one that killed some 11,000 people in West Africa (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone) in 2014.

Tariq Riebl, the emergency response director at the International Rescue Committee, expressed his concerns as the expansion of the disease is accelerating.

“Just a few months ago, we were only seeing three to five cases a day. We are now seeing eight to 20 cases recorded each day, a number that is very likely an underestimate," Riebl said following the release of the report. "To see such a spike in cases at this stage in the outbreak means a drastic change is required. This response requires a total and complete reset.” 

Health workers have been forced to suspend treatment work to contain the epidemic because of the unstable and unpredictable security situation. In addition to that, some in the affected communities believe the outbreak is fake news and do not trust NGOs nor the U.N.

“Community members do not trust medical staff and aid organizations, and are not coming into health facilities when they show Ebola symptoms,” said Riebl. “In Butembo, the current epicenter of the outbreak, doctors, and nurses are being threatened and health centers attacked regularly, hampering the response and forcing the IRC and other aid agencies to frequently suspend operations.”

U.N. has been urged to intensify its efforts on Ebola prevention work in DRC.

“To say that things are not going well is an understatement. It’s time the international community wakes up to the severity of this crisis,” concluded Riebl.

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