Monday, 15 July, 2019

Outbreak: Fighting Ebola in a conflict zone - Democratic Republic of the Congo

Outbreak: Fighting Ebola in a conflict zone - Democratic Republic of the Congo Outbreak: Fighting Ebola in a conflict zone - Democratic Republic of the Congo
Anna Jefferson | 17 August, 2018, 10:19

Ghebreyesus assured that, while all these factors rendered this outbreak "more hard to manage", WHO was continuing to provide support to the Ministry of Health and "doing all we can to be more aggressive than the virus". "One is high population density", Tedros said.

New Ebola alert in the Congo DRC was raised on July 25, after a woman and several members of her family died after showing symptoms compatible with the disease.

That outbreak killed 33 people starting in May in the western Equator Province.

Raging conflict is hampering efforts to rein in an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization chief warned today, urging a ceasefire to stop the virus from transmitting freely.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, visiting the area, on Sunday called for "free and secure access" for health workers, the agency said in a statement.

"The active conflict in the area is a barrier to control Ebola", Tedros said in a Twitter post Saturday night.

"We also call on the warring parties for a cessation of hostilities because the virus is unsafe to all; it doesn't choose between this group or that group".

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Immunization with rVSV-ZEBOV was given to front-line health workers to provide them with additional protection - a tactic that has been repeated in the latest outbreak.

"These red zones could be hiding places for Ebola", he added. "People are regularly moving as waves of violence force new communities to flee".

"What makes actually the outbreak in eastern DRC or northern Kivu more unsafe is, there is a security challenge".

"So the best strategy is to identify infected people, get there rapidly with trained health care workers and get quarantine established quickly", he said. That includes keeping the vaccines at the optimal temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 158 degrees Fahrenheit), a challenge in a region with hot temperatures and unreliable power supplies.

So far the deadly virus has caused a death toll of 41, and among the 75 reported cases, 30 have been confirmed to be Ebola positive, including seven medical staff, and 27 to be probable. Screenings for the virus are being carried out at the heavily traveled border; officials have said travel restrictions are not necessary.

This is Congo's tenth outbreak of Ebola, which is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead. There is no licensed treatment, and the virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

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