The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has now claimed 531 lives, according to Thursday’s report from the Ministry of Health, with the overall number of cases set at 853.
The new total includes 788 confirmed cases and 65 probable. Another 177 suspected cases are under investigation in what is now the second-largest Ebola outbreak in global history, after the 2014 West African outbreak.
There are signs of progress, including a three-week window since the last case was reported in Beni, which was hard-hit earlier on in the outbreak. There also have been no new cases reported in Komanda in the last 40 days, according to World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
At the same time, the list of affected and monitored communities now stands at 22 in the eastern Ituri and North Kivu provinces that border South Sudan and Uganda. They include 221 confirmed cases, 165 of them fatal, in Katwa, with additional cases under investigation. Katwa remains a hotspot with more fatalities now than Beni, although roughly the same number of cases.
The region remains volatile, with new attacks on Ebola facilities reported by WHO. They include a site in Katwa that was relocated because of security challenges, and another vandalized in Butembo by armed group members. Goma saw physical barriers removed because of resistance to health screening and limited security support, while an Ituri facility at Mambasa was destroyed by people demanding vaccination for the entire population. It was closed on February 15.
More than 82,000 people have received the approved rVSV-ZEBOV experimental vaccine, with roughly 20,000 each in Beni and Katwa. At least 68 health workers have contracted the virus, including new cases in Katwa, according to the most recent WHO update. At least 21 health workers have died.
Image: Congolese Ministry of Health file