The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) health officials say they are dealing with the worst outbreak of Ebola in its country’s history. Ebola is spread through bodily fluids such as sweat, saliva and blood.
The areas affected are in the eastern DRC, where warnings have increased regarding the deterioration of the situation due to the attacks by armed groups as well as resistance from communities there.
Since the outbreak in August, North Kivu and Ituri provinces have reported 319 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola as reported in a statement by the DRC”s health minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
There were 318 cases of this deadly Ebola virus documented in 1976.
This is the DRC’s 10th outbreak and In the current outbreak so far 198 deaths have been reported with 165 confirmed cases and 35 probable deaths. 97 have survived of the 284 confirmed cases reported by Kalenga.
“This epidemic remains dangerous and unpredictable, and we must not let our guard down,” Kalenga said. “We must continue to pursue a very dynamic response that requires permanent readjustments and real ownership at the community level.”
The problem that medical response teams are having is two-fold: first are the regular attacks by armed groups fighting over the mineral-rich eastern areas of the country and secondly, the cases of community resistance reported by health officials.
“No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing,” said Kalenga.
An unprecedented level of violence is being experienced by the teams responding to the outbreak; sometimes being attacked three or four times per week by threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment and even kidnapping which has ended in two team members losing their lives.
In spite of this, 27,000 high-risk cases have been vaccinated, half of which health officials say could have developed Ebola.
Insecurity and community mistrust are the main challenges in the current outbreak of Ebola, reported Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO).
“When there is an attack, the operation (vaccinations) actually freezes. And when the operation stops, the virus gets an advantage and it affects us in two ways,” he told reporters in the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, on Thursday
“One is catching up on the backload. And the other, the second problem, is that more cases are generated because we can’t vaccinate them,” he said.
In October, acceleration of new confirmed cases was reported and unless the response is stepped up by medical teams, the outbreak will significantly worsen warned an emergency committee of WHO experts.