USA urged to send Ebola experts in as DRC outbreak worsens

02 December, 2018, 12:40 | Author: Jared Lewis
  • Ebola outbreak kills 19 under one week in DR Congo

(KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo) - The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's volatile east is now the second largest in recorded history, with 426 confirmed and probable cases thus far, resulting in 245 deaths since August 1, according to the country's health ministry.

Experts say that armed conflict in the area has hampered efforts to curb the outbreak.

Congo's health ministry said the number of confirmed and probable Ebola cases has reached 426, edging past the Uganda outbreak in 2000.

Of the total cases, 379 have been confirmed, and 47 are probable wherein an additional 87 suspected are under investigation, said the health ministry.

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Global health experts are urging the Trump administration to allow US government disease specialists to return to northeastern Congo to help fight the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Violence is common in the central African country and has made it hard to stop the Ebola outbreak - earlier in the same week eight United Nations peacekeepers and 12 local soldiers died in an ambush.

North Kivu and Ituri are among the most populous provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and share borders with Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.

"If the (U.S.) ban were not in place, the CDC would have a big and growing presence here", said Mearns, who worked closely with the CDC in West Africa's Ebola outbreak. Al Jazeera reported that "attacks by rebel groups and open hostility by some wary locals have posed serious challenges to health workers". "These trials will contribute to building that knowledge, while we continue to respond on every front to bring the current outbreak to an end".

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They are also awash with violence and insecurity, particularly in the mineral-rich borderlands where militia activity has surged over the past year, all of which complicates the response to the outbreak.

Some 38 people died after they had a hemorrhagic fever, but it couldn't be verified whether they died of Ebola because they were buried without an autopsy.

'No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are now experiencing, ' said Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC's health minister.

Despite facing resistance from people who don't want health workers treating them, the government has managed to vaccinate more than 27,000 people.

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'We must continue to pursue a very dynamic response that requires permanent readjustments and real ownership at the community level'.

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