Efforts to stem Ebola outbreak
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