The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, dubbed the second-deadliest, continues to wreak havoc, with the number of cases ballooning to 560.

The outbreak that started on Aug. 1 has so far claimed the lives of 336 people, the ministry of health said. There are also 87 people more who are under observation and whom doctors suspect may have contracted the disease.

Strategic Response Plan On Ebola Outbreak

Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga went to the disease-stricken cities of Beni, Goma, and Butembo in North Kivu province, the epicenter of the outbreak, on Thursday in preparation of a third response plan for February to April next year, the ministry said.

"This constant adaptation of the national strategy demonstrates the dynamic nature of this response to the most complex Ebola outbreak in the country's history," the agency said.

Apart from North Kivu, its neighboring province, Ituri, has already reported Ebola cases. Both areas have the biggest population in the region. The outbreak marks the 10th for Congo since 1976.

Three To Four Months More

Meanwhile, Kalenga looked at the second strategic plan in place, covering November through January, and held meetings with concerned provincial health officials. In another interview, he said this will "certainly" last for three to four months more.

The World Health Organization claimed there was significant progress seen in the affected areas, especially in Beni, where a decrease in Ebola cases was observed. However, it further said that the outbreak "continues to be a complex challenge."

This was partly because of rebel attacks amid the Ebola outbreak. Moreover, the nearing election is harboring worries among the citizens who fear contracting the disease as they vote through a touch-screen machine.

The Ebola virus is contagious and is passed on by bodily fluids. That said, voters are afraid they may catch the disease through the screens. To this, Kalenga said they have placed precautionary measures, including providing hand sanitizers in precincts and advising people to clean their hands before and after voting.

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