Ebola cases rise to 100 in DR Congo

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the number of Ebola cases in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo has risen to 100.

The new figure is double the number of cases accounted for five weeks ago.

The first cases in the current outbreak were recorded in the capital of Equateur Province, Mbandaka.

Ebola has now spread across the region.

The WHO says it is struggling to cope as affected communities live in dense forests often hundreds of kilometres away from each other.

This is the 11th recorded outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo.

This latest outbreak was declared on 1 June 2020 in Equateur Province. A cluster of cases was initially detected in Mbandaka, the provincial capital. The outbreak has since spread to 11 of the province’s 17 health zones. Of the 100 cases reported so far, 96 are confirmed and four are probable. Forty-three people have lost their lives.

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An Ebola outbreak occurred in the same province in May 2018 and was contained in less than three months with 54 cases and 33 deaths recorded.

“With 100 Ebola cases in less than 100 days, the outbreak in Equateur Province is evolving in a concerning way,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions and with COVID-19 draining resources and attention, it is hard to scale-up operations.”

The current response is underfunded, adding challenges to the existing logistical barriers. WHO initially provided US$ 1.7 million and subsequently supplemented this with another US$ 600 000 from its contingency fund for emergencies. The DRC Ministry of Health has presented an integrated plan to donors and partners for about US$ 40 million and has committed US$ 4 million. There is a critical need for additional support.

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