About ten months after the onset of the Ebola epidemic in eastern Congo, the disease is spreading rapidly. Since the end of March, the number of people infected has risen from 1,000 to 1,500.
In eastern Congo, the number of new Ebola diseases has risen sharply. At the end of March, the authorities counted around 1,000 cases of illness, and now there are around 1,500. Meanwhile, the death toll has risen from 630 to around 970. This corresponds to an increase of around 50 percent.
Last week, 126 confirmed cases of haemorrhagic fever and 83 deaths were registered, said the Ministry of Health in Kinshasa. So many new cases in a week did not exist before. The WHO also assumes that there is a significant number of unreported cases and the number of Ebola sufferers is significantly higher.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was „deeply disturbed after visiting the affected city of Butembo.“ According to Ghebreyesus, the number of illnesses is rising because of acts of violence „that will set us back every time.“ The international community must do more to support the fight against Ebola.
Attacks on treatment centers
The outbreak in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri is difficult to curb, as many militias are active in the region. There were also repeated attacks on Ebola treatment centers. Just last week, a WHO doctor was killed in Butembo. After attacks, the relief mission is usually temporarily suspended in order to strengthen the security measures. During this time, however, the number of new cases increases again.
Population has no confidence
The Africa Director of WHO, Matshidiso Moeti, praised the helpers: „They have experienced the unimaginable and are nevertheless willing to continue their important work.“ Additional security measures for helpers, however, made it harder to gain the trust of the population. This is essential for the fight against the epidemic. To make matters worse, the people in the unstable region for many years already have little confidence in the authorities and the government anyway. There are apparently rumors that the government wants to decimate with Ebola only the population, or that Ebola is an invention of the authorities.
Vaccine in the test phase
To stem the outbreak in eastern Congo, nearly 110,000 people have already received an Ebola vaccine in the test phase. Congo’s coordinator for the fight against Ebola, Aruna Abedi, warned that the epidemic could continue for as long as the population did not comply with the hygiene recommendations of the authorities.
The epidemic, which officially began in August, is the second most common known outbreak of the deadly pathogen. More than 11,000 people lost their lives in the most serious Ebola epidemic worldwide in West Africa in 2014/2015. The Ebola virus is named after a river in Congo.