KINSHASA – Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo continued to battle the ongoing Ebola outbreak on Wednesday after the health ministry announced the virus had caused 565 deaths, in what experts called the worst epidemic in the central African nation’s history.
According to the most recent figures published by the health ministry Tuesday, 500 of the people who died were confirmed cases of the virus.
A total of 900 cases have been registered, 835 of which are confirmed and 65 are probable cases of Ebola.
DRC’s health minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, on Tuesday held a press conference in the capital and assured people the situation was relatively under control, hoping the epidemic in the towns of Beni, Mandima, and Kalunguta would come to an end within the upcoming weeks.
This Ebola outbreak emerged shortly after the DR Congo’s government declared an end to another outbreak of the disease in the west of the country in June last year and was first reported on Aug. 1 in the conflict-affected provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had suspended its activities in two Ebola treatment centers at the end of February, after armed assailants had attacked an Ebola treatment center in northeastern DRC.
The attack in the city of Butembo was the second in just over a week as armed men set another treatment center ablaze in Katwa town, leaving two Ebola patients dead.
“In light of these two violent incidents, we have no choice but to suspend our activities until further notice. As medical responders, it is very painful to have to leave behind patients, their families and other members of the community at such a critical time in the Ebola response,” said the MSF emergency desk manager, Hugues Robert.
On Nov. 30, the World Health Organization confirmed that the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC is the second-worst in history after the 2014-2016 West African Ebola epidemic which resulted in 28,600 cases and 11,325 deaths.
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of infected people or animals, and is widely feared for its mortality rate of up to 90 percent and for causing heavy internal and external bleeding.