Ebola in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo shows no signs of abating, as the second-largest outbreak in global history, behind the 2014 West African outbreak, claimed new victims.
There are now 275 fatalities, the country’s Ministry of Health said in its Friday update. The total of cases stands at 477, with 429 confirmed and 48 probable, and new cases reemerging in communities like Mabalako that had grown quieter after seeing some of the earliest reported infections. Another 94 cases are suspected and under investigation.
Regional conflict has hampered the Ebola response, with the latest report from Reuters of a militant attack that claimed 18 civilian lives on Thursday night near the hard-hit town of Beni. More than 40 percent of the Ebola cases and 42 percent of the outbreak fatalities have occurred there.
Other troubling trends include new cases and 31 fatalities in Katwa – nine people have died there since just last week – and 19 fatalities among the cases confirmed in the larger city of Butembo. There are Ebola cases in 14 communities in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
A WHO response update issued Thursday said 44 health workers are now infected, as are 27 babies under the age of one and 18 pregnant women. About a fourth of the cases are in children under age 15.
WHO warns that the risk of regional spread remains very high, though alerts this week in neighboring Uganda and South Sudan turned out to be false alarms, as did those from other parts of DR Congo. So far there has been no cross-border spread of Ebola, but preparedness efforts continue in at least nine countries.
More than 41,800 people have received experimental vaccines, the Congolese health ministry said.