(KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo) - The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's volatile east is now the second largest in recorded history, with 426 confirmed and probable cases thus far, resulting in 245 deaths since August 1, according to the country's health ministry.
The announcement came after a devastating week, when 13 cases were confirmed on Wednesday - a one-day record - and officials confirmed even newborn babies are catching the virus. Dozens of rebel groups are active and attacks by them have forced workers to halt Ebola containment for days at a time.
It is not clear how many Centres for Disease Control and Prevention workers are now forced to tackle the outbreak from DRC's capital, Kinshasa, almost 1 600km away. "The dynamics of conflict (mean). a protracted outbreak is. likely, and the end is not in sight".
The world's worst outbreak - from 2014 to 2016 - killed more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
In a major concern for health workers, many new cases have been unconnected to known infections as the insecurity complicates efforts to track contacts of those with the disease.
Some 38 people died after they had a hemorrhagic fever, but it couldn't be verified whether they died of Ebola because they were buried without an autopsy.
According to the ministry, nearly half of the 106 confirmed deaths were in the city of Beni which has a population of approximately 800,000 people.
He added: 'Since their arrival in the region, the response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment, and kidnapping.
Salama this month predicted that the outbreak in northeastern Congo will last at least another six months before it can be contained.
There are also concerns regarding the high number of young children affected with the virus, according to the WHO.
Security concerns are real, Ebola responders say.
'While our focus remains on bringing this outbreak to an end, the launch of the randomised control trial is an important step toward finally finding an Ebola treatment that will save lives, ' said World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "We will not rest until this outbreak is finished".
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