Saturday , July 24 2021

Ebola Outbreak: Congolese health workers face violence when the virus spreads



Conflict between militant groups and government forces has made it difficult for health workers to access some of the hardest hit areas.

On Friday night, armed groups tried to attack UN peacekeepers in the town of Beni in North Kivu province – the epicenter of the outbreak.

The attack took place near the Ebola Response Emergency Response Center and hotels where many Ebola health workers live, according to the health ministry.

Peacekeepers were able to push the attackers back after several hours of clashes but all field activities were suspended at Beni Saturday because of violence. The Emergency Operations Center remains closed and teams must stay at their hotel.

Earlier this week, at least seven peacekeepers were killed and 10 wounded in a coordinated military attack on rebel forces, the Stabilization Mission of the United Nations Organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said.

Peacekeepers have partnered with Congolese armed forces in an operation to oust Democrat Allied rebels and "restore peace and stability in the Beni region," the UN said in a statement.

Deadly violence in North Kivu province of Congo has hampered efforts to eradicate the Ebola virus, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the country's Minister of Public Health said.

Babies among the dead

The outbreak – the second this year – began in North Kivu province before spreading to the eastern province of Ituri. This is the 10th time since 1976 that Ebola attacked Congo.

The worst Ebola outbreak in the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Of all reported cases, 311 have so far been confirmed as Ebola and 47 possibilities. Among the dead, 166 were confirmed to have been caused by Ebola and 47 are likely, according to the country's health ministry.

Among those killed during the outbreak were pregnant and lactating women, newborns and babies, the World Health Organization reported. More than 30 health workers have also been infected, according to WHO.

Afraid of spreading

Congo shares the border with nine countries, and the United Nations is worried that the Ebola epidemic could spread to South Sudan because of the entry of Congolese refugees.

Doctors Without Borders is on the ground in Congo and also sent a team to neighboring Uganda, although no cases have been confirmed so far.
The outbreak and war spread fear to the neighboring DR Congo
However, the World Health Organization said Thursday "the risk of spreading spread to other provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as to neighboring countries, remains very high."

Kalenga, health minister, posted a video on the Health Ministry Facebook page early Saturday calling on people to be vigilant and report signs of illness.

"Community-based surveillance is at the heart of the new response strategy for #Ebola. Every citizen, at that level, can protect his family and environment against viruses by reporting any warnings and suspicious cases to the emergency team. All #beni Environmental leaders work with us in response he wrote.

    A health worker brought a four-day-old baby suspected of having Ebola in the city of Butembo.

Virus

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and Congo, and got its name from the river in the last country. This is one of the deadliest diseases in the world and is transmitted through direct contact with blood or other body fluids from infected people.

Ebola Fast Facts

Ebola causes fever, severe headaches and in some cases bleeding. It spreads through direct contact with body fluids or objects contaminated by someone who is sick with the disease. In some cases, the virus spreads through contact with someone who has died from the disease.

Viruses enter the body through damaged skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. It can also be spread through sexual contact.


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