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DR Congo: Ebola death toll passes 1000 due to mistrust of doctors, says health ministry

The worst Ebola epidemic in DRC has so far killed over 1000 people across the country. (FILE PHOTO)

KINSHASHA – The Democratic Republic of Congo healthy ministry has said that the death toll from the Ebola epidemic has gone past 1,000.

DRC’s Ebola outbreak began in August and is the second deadliest in history.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization deputy director said mistrust and violence was harming efforts to tackle the disease as it spread through the east of the country.

“There have been 119 documented attacks on medical centres and staff since January,” Dr. Ryan said.

“Health workers have plenty of vaccines – more than 100,000 people have already been given the treatment. But continuing violence in the east of the country where militias are present, as well as mistrust of doctors, was hindering their programme,” Dr Ryan said.

“We still face major issues of community acceptance and trust,” he added.

The DRC is also suffering from an outbreak of measles which has killed more than 1,000 people, with 50,000 cases reported. WHO staff have confirmed measles in 14 of the country’s 26 provinces, in both rural and urban areas.

Ebola is still contained within two provinces in the DRC but it is becoming harder to monitor the spread of the virus because of violence. The WHO said the risk of a global spread is low, but it was very likely cases would spread into neighbouring countries.

Most Ebola outbreaks are over quickly and affect small numbers of people. Only once before has an outbreak been still growing more than eight months after it began – that was the epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, which killed 11,310 people.

In February this year, over 500 people were reported dead in the country, however, the healthy ministry revealed that a vaccination programme had prevented thousands of more deaths.

“In total, there have been 502 deaths and 271 people cured,” said a health ministry.

Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said that, “I believe we have prevented the spread of the epidemic in the big cities” in the region.

“The biggest problem is the high mobility of the population,” the minister added.

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat.

It progresses to vomiting, diarrhoea and both internal and external bleeding.

People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, faeces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola.

Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.

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