Ebola Death Toll Climbs to 36 in Congo’s Latest Outbreak
A fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed the lives of at least 36 people, including one health care worker, according to the World Health Organization.
As of Aug. 5, 43 cases of Ebola have been reported primarily in North Kivu Province with an additional 33 suspected cases currently undergoing laboratory tests. This is the 10th outbreak in the country.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), North Kivu is among the most populated provinces and has been experiencing intense insecurity and worsening humanitarian crises. There are over 1 million internally displaced people and there is a continuous efflux of refugees to the neighbouring countries, including Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania.
These conditions make it a logistical nightmare to trace the movements of the Ebola virus.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said there were “massive logistical constraints” that occurred in the last outbreak on July 24, in the western Equateur Province.
However, workers were still able to travel hundreds of miles by motorbike to trace people who came in contact with the virus, which was a vital part of its containment.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also know as Doctors Without Borders in English responded to the most recent outbreak.
“We have teams on site, currently setting up treatment centers and supporting the existing local health facilities in infection prevention and control, in order to help limit the possible spread of the disease and ensure continuity of care for the general population,” an MSF press officer in Johannesburg said on Aug. 6.
Congolese officials and the WHO began vaccinating health workers against the deadly Ebola virus on Aug. 8, to try and halt an outbreak in Congo’s volatile east.
More than 3,000 doses remain in stock in the capital Kinshasa, allowing authorities to deploy them quickly to affected areas. But they face security challenges in eastern Congo, a region bubbling with conflict over land and ethnicity stoked by decades of on-off war.
Health workers are now rushing to set up a cold chain to start vaccinating people in the eastern part of the country on Aug. 8, the DRC’s Health Ministry said.
But the biggest constraint, said Jasarevic, will be “security and access issues and that ability to really determine the contacts of contacts of contacts.”
Reuters contributed to this report.