Another Ebola outbreak is declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a mere week after the previous one was announced to be over.
Its location in the country’s war zone makes containing the deadly illness much more difficult.
Ebola Outbreak In The DR Congo
Just a week after the Ebola outbreak in northwestern Congo had been declared over, laboratory results confirmed a new cluster of Ebola cases in North Kivu. So far, authorities have confirmed Ebola cases in North Kivu and neighboring provinces, Ituri and Beni.
So far, Congolese authorities confirmed that there have been at least 20 deaths and that they are already working to find out if Ebola was, in fact, the cause of the deaths. Among the deaths is that of a health worker, and two more have already fallen ill.
In a statement, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa, stated that the organization has a head start on dealing with the illnesses because it is just coming out of a previous Ebola outbreak, so the people and equipment are still in place.
Although they were worried then that the virus might have traveled to other regions because of its close proximity to the Congo river, there is no evidence yet suggesting that the new outbreak is related to the former outbreak in Bikoro.
‘At The Top Of The Difficulty Scale’
Despite that Ebola is never an easy illness to combat, the current outbreak is much more difficult than previous ones primarily because of the location in which it appeared. Evidently, the region now affected by the virus is a region that is disrupted by conflict.
This means that aid workers will not just have to deal with the virus itself, but they have to do so in a location that is teeming with over 1 million refugees and where the chances of encounters with militant groups are rather high.
“This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population” said Peter Salama, deputy director of emergency preparedness and response for WHO. “In terms of difficulty scales, we are at the top of the difficulty scale.”
So far, it is said that aid workers are already struggling to bring assistance and even food and water to the people in the area. Although the massive refugee population makes identification, isolation, and treatment more difficult, the country’s health ministry announced that 879 people who have had contact with Ebola patients have so far been identified.
Authorities are also planning on using Ebola vaccines to help control the outbreak, but they first have to identify the strain affecting the region.