Death toll tops 1,000 in Congo Ebola outbreak


Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, speaks about the Update on WHO Ebola operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, May 03, 2019.

Mwamini Kahindo, an Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies with Ebola, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Health Minister Oly Ilunga said that four deaths in the outbreak's epicentre of Katwa pushed the death toll to 1,008.

Health workers have plenty of vaccines - more than 100,000 people have already been given the treatment.

Out of the 1510 cases registered in North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the country, as many as 400 have recovered, reported CNN.

"We are at a critical juncture where we need to step up our support to communities that are facing greater risk of infection, yet Ebola responders face massive security challenges and a lack of resources for the response".

The Merck vaccine will still be used in "ring vaccination" of people exposed to the virus and their contacts, Ryan said, but the World Health Organization is also studying use of a single dose to stretch supplies, an option experts would review on Monday.

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Insecurity also has prevented vaccination teams from getting to some areas, further limiting the health response.

Among them, some 7,000 displaced people are housed in a primary school where the only water source is a nearby river and there are not enough toilets, 18 non-governmental organizations said in a statement.

A volatile security situation and deep community mistrust have hampered efforts to control the epidemic in eastern Congo.

As of Thursday evening, 994 people had died from the deadly disease. "An under-resourced operation creates a very real risk of an global spread of Ebola".

"Others are avoiding official border points and choosing to cross illegally through the forests along the border or by boat across Lake Albert".

More than five million have had to flee their homes, and Uganda is already home to more than 1.2 million refugees.