Published: Mon, May 06, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Congo Should Exceed 1,000 Ebola Deaths on Friday

Congo Should Exceed 1,000 Ebola Deaths on Friday

At least 1,008 people have lost their lives due to Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) since the outbreak of the virus in August a year ago, the country's health ministry confirmed.

The DRC health ministry has reported that the death toll has risen to 1,008 and more than 1,450 cases have been registered since August 2018.

Dr Ryan said there have been 119 documented attacks on medical centres and staff since January.

"Security has been a big issue, and every time we have an incident, essential response activities such as contact tracing, vaccination and safe burials are suspended for an indefinite period of time, giving time and space for the virus to spread", Ilunga told Al Jazeera.

The situation has been made more hard by dozens of rebel groups that operate in the region, and community rejection of health workers that has been driven in part by political rivalries, Ryan said.

Scores of armed groups operate in the conflict-wracked region, including in the areas surrounding the North Kivu cities of Beni and Butembo, where the current outbreak is concentrated.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said support to control the Ebola outbreak has lagged and maintaining security in the conflict-prone area has been hard.

Treatment centres have been burned, and on April 19, a World Health Organization epidemiologist, Richard Mouzoko, was killed by armed men.

"We need the security situation to be under control for [health workers] and for the local people", said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. "Community trust and safety, as well as community engagement and ownership of the response is critical". The virus can be transmitted to humans from wild animals.

More than 1,000 deaths have now been confirmed in eastern Congo's Ebola outbreak, the second-worst in history behind the West African one in 2014-16 that killed more than 11,300 people.

Some residents question why so much attention and money is spent on Ebola, a disease not seen in this part of Congo until now, instead of other deadly diseases such as malaria.

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