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Ebola cases in DR Congo break 2000 mark

07 June 2019

The combination of popular disbelief in the Ebola virus threat and increased number of violent attacks on aid organizations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is likely to cause another outbreak in the coming months, a prominent global relief organization said in a statement on Tuesday. More than 1,300 people have died.

"This outbreak will only end when communities are engaged and leading the response efforts themselves", Nicole Fassina, Ebola coordinator with the IFRC, said in a statement. It added its second 1,000 cases in only 71 days, or just a little over 2 months later, data that demonstrate how the outbreak has accelerated.

Most Ebola outbreaks are over quickly and affect small numbers of people.

Misunderstandings have been high in a region that had never experienced an Ebola outbreak until now, and years of rebel attacks have left many residents wary of outsiders, especially ones accompanied by Congolese security forces or United Nations peacekeepers.

Without access to communities, health workers struggle to vaccinate those at risk and treat those infected or trace contacts to halt the spread of the highly contagious hemorrhagic fever.

More than 2,000 cases of Ebola have been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last 10 months, officials have said. Notably, more than 129,000 people have received an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine in its first widespread use.

The task is to overcome the resistance from communities who believe Ebola is a conspiracy by aid groups and the government. Between January and early May, there were 42 attacks on health facilities, with 85 workers either injured or killed, according to WHO figures from May 3. "The insecurity is holding us back", World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

The ADF is one of the numerous rebel groups that are active in eastern Congo, primarily fighting over the area's rich mineral resources.

"In Butembo, the current epicentre of the outbreak, doctors and nurses are being threatened and health centres attacked regularly, hampering the response and forcing the IRC and other aid agencies to frequently suspend operations".

Ebola cases in DR Congo break 2000 mark