More than a 1,000 Ebola outbreak cases have been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) according to the country’s health ministry.
Since the Ebola outbreak in August 1,009, cases of which 944 are confirmed and 65 probable. The death toll has risen to 629 of which 564 are confirmed from Ebola and 65 probable.
This outbreak is the second most lethal and second largest in history only surpassed by the outbreak in West Africa in 2014 when more than 11,000 people were killed by the disease according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated on Saturday that “We use words like ‘cases’ and ‘containment’ to be scientific, but behind every number is a person, a family and a community that is suffering,”. “This outbreak has gone on far too long.”
The WHO had had reported last week that the weekly confirmed Ebola cases are on the rise after several weeks of decline. The WHO cited “increased security challenges, including the recent direct attacks on treatment centers, and pockets of community mistrust” as causes for the increase.
Security challenges include assaults on treatment facilities. Earlier in March 2019, militants attacked an Ebola treatment centre leaving a police officer dead. In February, two attacks on Ebola treatment centres in the province of North Kivu involuntary required Doctors Without Borders (known as Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF) to halt some humanitarian efforts.
Experimental Ebola vaccines could be the ‘game-changer’ in the Congo outbreak. According to the WHO, until now, Ebola cases have not spread outside of DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, nor have there been any cases going beyond international borders.
The organisation also reported that almost a 100,000 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in the DRC, along with health workers in Uganda and South Sudan. Further, more than 90% of those eligible for vaccination accept it.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa said that “As we mourn the lives lost, we must also recognize that thousands of people have been protected from this terrifying disease…We are working in exceptionally challenging circumstances, but thanks to support from donors and the efforts of the Ministry of Health, WHO and partners, we have saved thousands of lives.”