Red Cross: Over 1,000 People Killed in ‘Worsening’ Congo Ebola Outbreak

Ebola death toll in DRC passes 750: WHO
AFP John WESSELS

The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is “worsening” and has already killed more than 1,000 people, fueling a disconcerting number of cases in recent days, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) revealed over the weekend.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola outbreak had killed 1,029 (963 confirmed, 66 probable) as of Saturday.

The United Nations agency added that there are 1,488 confirmed and 66 probable cases of people infected by the virus in Congo.

On Saturday, IFRC noted:

In the past week, 23 cases were reported in one day, the highest since the start of the outbreak in August 2018. Major security challenges and lack of community acceptance of the response continue to hamper efforts to end the outbreak.

Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis have established a presence in the DRC. Jihadis linked to the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the first ISIS attack that killed eight people in the Central African country on April 18.

The DRC is also home to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group seeking to overthrow the Ugandan government and establish an Islamic emirate in the region.

According to the New York University’s Congo Research Group, the ADF is just one of many DRC rebel groups trying to align themselves with jihadist groups like ISIS and its rival al-Qaeda.

“Attacks in DRC continue to terrorize the population,” the United Nations reported on Friday.

Referring to the deadly Ebola virus outbreak, the IFRC reported:

Worryingly, many of these deaths are occurring within communities which means that people are not seeking care and treatment in health centers. This is accelerating the spread of Ebola within communities.

Voice of America (VOA) noted that the deteriorating conditions in the DRC are keeping people from going to Ebola treatment centers.

“They may instead choose to stay home where they run the risk of infecting their caretakers and neighbors,” it revealed.

Nicole Fassina, the Ebola coordinator at IFRC, declared:

We are at a critical juncture where we need to step up our support to communities that are facing greater risk of infection, yet Ebola responders face massive security challenges and a lack of resources for the response. An under-resourced operation creates a very real risk of an international spread of Ebola.

Expensive burials that are out of the reach of impoverished people in Congo plagued by Ebola are required to contain the spread of the virus, the humanitarian organization acknowledged.

Red Cross volunteers continue to brave the security and health challenges to carry out “safe and dignified burials where possible,” the group said, adding:

Volunteers and other burial teams have responded to more than 5,000 safe and dignified burial requests across North Kivu and Ituri provinces. They have been successful nearly 80 percent of the time.

IFRC is also supporting localized efforts to keep the outbreak from spreading to Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda.

The humanitarian aid organization’s assessment of the situation in the DRC echoed an April 30 report from the United Nations, which also found that the outbreak is “worsening.”

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