Congo-Kinshasa: Insecurity Undermining Ebola Control Efforts in DRC

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The World Health Organization said that insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu Province is undermining Ebola control efforts. The WHO reports the number of Ebola cases has reached 200, including 125 deaths, and said the virus could spread into Uganda and Rwanda.

The WHO reports the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak has moved from the village of Mangina to the city of Beni, the scene of frequent attacks by a Ugandan rebel group against civilians and government forces.

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WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the attacks by the rebel Allied Defense Forces are not targeted at responders. But, he said the dangers are too great for health workers to move around freely in so-called Red Zones.

“We cannot go for a couple of hours to some areas because there are either shooting going on or there is a protest by groups in the city on this violence.”

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Jasarevic says the incidents have forced frontline workers to suspend important activities, increasing the risk of the spread of the Ebola virus.

Nevertheless, efforts to contain the deadly virus continue, and important inroads are being made. Jasarevic said health and frontline workers are being vaccinated, as are people who came into contact with those infected by Ebola.

“Since the beginning of the vaccination that started on Aug. 8, that is like a week after the declaration of the outbreak, 15,807 persons have been vaccinated in different areas,” Jasarevic said.

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The WHO has raised its risk assessment for the outbreak at both national and regional levels from high to very high. It urges neighboring provinces and countries to increase surveillance and preparedness activities in case the virus crosses borders and infects new populations.

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