Ef­forts to stem Ebola out­break

Cape Argus - - WORLD -

THE Ebola out­break in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo is ex­pected to last sev­eral months and could spread at any time to Uganda or Rwanda, which are well pre­pared but have not ap­proved use of a vac­cine, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion said yes­ter­day.

But the most con­cern­ing area is the city of Beni in the DRC’s North Kivu prov­ince, where peo­ple who may have been ex­posed to the dis­ease are hid­ing from health workers, said emergency re­sponse chief Peter Salama.

“We an­tic­i­pate that now we’ll be look­ing at least at an­other three to four months in or­der to re­ally stem this out­break, with a strong fo­cus in Beni and sur­round­ing ar­eas,” Salama said.

The out­break has re­sulted in 194 cases and 122 deaths, and two-thirds of cases in the past month have been in and around Beni, where the Ebola re­sponse was dis­rupted last month by at­tacks by armed groups.

Some Ebola vic­tims are sus­pi­cious of health workers, fear­ing that hospi­tal­i­sa­tion is a death sen­tence, while fam­i­lies be­lieve that bod­ies may not be re­turned for tra­di­tional buri­als.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Beni have threat­ened peo­ple who har­bour sus­pected pa­tients with three­month jail sen­tences. |

Ear­lier this week, the DRC gov­ern­ment said it would send se­cu­rity forces to pro­tect teams trans­port­ing the bod­ies of Ebola vic­tims for burial, the gov­ern­ment said, af­ter at­tacks on health workers.

The gov­ern­ment also made it a le­gal obli­ga­tion for tra­di­tional heal­ers to re­port those sus­pected of hav­ing the virus, the health min­istry said in a state­ment.

The new mea­sures come af­ter the International Red Cross last week con­demned an at­tack that in­jured three of its vol­un­teers who were try­ing to bury an Ebola vic­tim.

School girls wear­ing pink tur­ban wave dur­ing cel­e­bra­tions to mark International Day of the Girl Child, at a school in Chandigarh, In­dia yes­ter­day. | REUTERS | ANA

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