The latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst in the country’s history, the health ministry says.
The health ministry said it had recorded 201 deaths from the virus and that 291 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began in August. The figure exceeds the 318 cases documented in 1976, when the deadly Ebola virus was first identified in Yambuku.
The United Nation’s Department of Peacekeeping on Friday called on armed groups active in the region not to hinder efforts to fight the disease.
Teams responsible for responding to the outbreak “have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment and kidnapping,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga said.
Separately, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said this week that the main challenges in the current epidemic are insecurity and community mistrust.
“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.
About half of the cases identified so far, 159, have popped up in Beni. Another 36 have been identified in Butembo. The World Health Organization has sent aid to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan in anticipation of the chance that the virus could cross international borders.