The WHO takes into account potentially infected contacts, putting costs at $56m
WHO takes on the deadly virus in the DR Congo.
The World Health Organisation assumes 100-300 cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo between May and July, under a revised response plan to the outbreak that it published on Tuesday.
An earlier version of the plan, based on information to May 15, had assumed 80-100 cases. The WHO says the new figure is not a prediction but part of its modelling is to plan and budget for a response.
Congo’s Health Ministry said late on Monday there had been 54 cases of Ebola in the outbreak — 35 confirmed, 13 probable and six suspected — and 25 deaths. There have been no deaths or new confirmed cases in the past two days.
The deadly virus spreads easily through bodily fluids and eight previous outbreaks in Congo have claimed between one and 256 lives. A West African outbreak that began in late 2013 killed 11,300 before being brought under control in 2016.
The WHO’S plan for Congo assumes each rural Ebola case would have 10 potentially infected contacts and each urban case would have 30. As of May 26, there were 906 contacts being followed, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.
Health workers hope to vaccinate every contact to effectively ringfence each Ebola patient and prevent further spread.
The WHO estimates 1,000 people move each day through major points of entry connected to Bikoro health zone, the remote area of Equateur Province where the outbreak was first declared. Around 50 per day go by boat from Bikoro to neighbouring Republic of Congo.
Since the plan was written, the disease has spread to the provincial capital Mbandaka, with an estimated population of 1.5 million people, and WHO has more than doubled its response budget, to $56 million from an initial $26 million.
The plan also sets out targets for the disease response, including that 100 per cent of new cases should come from known contacts and none of the cases should be health care workers. Zero contacts should be lost, and all people who die from suspected or probable Ebola should be buried in a safe way, to prevent the infection spreading. The case fatality ratio for all confirmed cases admitted into Ebola treatment centres should be less than 50 per cent, it said.
Meanwhile, more awareness is being urged among the population of the DRC amid the rising number of suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in the northwest of the country.
Efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus have been hampered by poor road conditions and the lack of other logistical means.
The non-co-operation of some members of the community with the medical professionals also helped propagate the virus, observers said.
Last Wednesday, three patients were whisked from an isolation site to return to their families. Two were found dead later.
“We need to tell more to people to understand how the Ebola virus is contagious,” Minister of Health Oly Ilunga said.
Many experts and health observers say the local and international response to the outbreak in northwestern DRC has been swift.
The WHO has shipped over 4,000 doses of vaccine to stop the spread of the virus, in collaboration with international partners, including Doctors Without Borders, which has set up treatment facilities.
On the ground in the affected areas, in Equateur Province, mistrust and misinformation are the biggest risks for the spread of the epidemic, observers say. They cite such factors as the way care is given to the sick; religion; superstition; and funerary rites that help spread the virus.
For now, medical teams are continuing their field work, reminding the public that vaccination is effective only if other hygiene measures, monitoring, and follow-up procedures are well taken.
Health workers wear protective gear as they prepare to attend to suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital — the epicentre of the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo