The World Health Organization said it expected the nine-month outbreak to continue spreading though the east of Democratic Republic of Congo, and announced plans to expand vaccinations in the coming weeks once a new treatment by Johnson & Johnson is approved.
Congo’s Health Ministry said on Friday that 14 new Ebola deaths had been recorded, taking the toll to 1,008 deaths from confirmed and probable cases.
Only the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa has been deadlier. More than 11,000 people died then out of 28,000 who were infected.
Despite significant medical advances since then, health officials have struggled to control the current outbreak because of the violence and community mistrust in eastern Congo, where dozens of militias are active.
Militiamen attacked a hospital treating Ebola patients two weeks ago, killing a senior WHO epidemiologist and wounding two others.
“The numbers are nothing short of terrifying,” said Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of the global health charity the Wellcome Trust.
“This epidemic will not be brought under control without a really significant shift in the response,” he said. “Community trust and safety, as well as community engagement and ownership of the response is critical.”
There was an attempted assault on an Ebola treatment facility in the city of Butembo on Thursday, but nobody was injured and the assailants were captured, the WHO’s Ryan said.
By Fiston Mahamba and Stephanie Nebehay