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Ebola Cases Soar Past 2,000 in Democratic Republic of Congo

Wednesday June 5, 2019

More than 2,000 cases of the Ebola virus have hit the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the nation's health ministry. The 1,346 deaths make it the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health said 539 people have been cured of the virus.

The ministry update says the fight against the deadly virus is being helped by improved security and a containment of the disease.

"While threats against the response remain high, the reduction in targeted attacks has allowed teams to catch up with the spread of the epidemic. However, the security situation remains volatile and unpredictable," it read.

According to AFP, five aid workers have been killed by local militia forces.

Health officials wrote, "The epidemic continues to be contained geographically, thus protecting the rest of the country and neighboring countries. To date, no cases of Ebola have crossed the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the epidemic has not spread to the most risky major urban centers, namely Goma, Bunia and Kisangani."

The Ministry of Health identified virus surveillance, infection prevention, and a high community death rate as continuing challenges.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies say officials should "reset" the nation's Ebola response in light of the dramatically rising number of cases.

The IFRC urged community partners to take the lead in handling the problem.

"This outbreak will only end when communities are engaged and leading the response efforts themselves," the release concluded.

Attacks from local militias and distrust of health workers have complicated the response to the disease.

The International Rescue Committee writes that aid workers should be willing to put their lives on the line and build relationships with local communities in order to deal with the Ebola epidemic in DRC.

"Many patients can be cautious and reticent when they find out they're being screened for Ebola because of fear of the unknown and a process that can be intimidating. That's why it's important to engage with the patients, comfort them, and address their fears while providing care."

The current outbreak is the 10th in DRC's history. The worst outbreak in West Africa lasted from 2014 to 2016, killing 11,310 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.


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