Alongside several deadly epidemics, Ebola continues to claim the lives of thousands of Africans on the continent where the viral disease had first appeared.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Ebola virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) “is transmitted to people from wild animals (such as fruit bats, porcupines, and non-human primates) and then spreads in the human population through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.”
In, 2014-2015, Ebola caused global alarm when the world's worst outbreak began in West Africa, killing 11,323 people and infecting an estimated 28,600 as it swept through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and “to a lesser extent in Nigeria,” according to a working paper issued on May 9, 2019 by the WHO.
DR Congo’s latest and fiercest Ebola outbreak
On Aug. 1, 2018, the DR Congo declared its tenth Ebola outbreak which has mainly hit the country’s northeast in the two provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, as well as cases reported in South Kivu, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
On Aug. 7, 2018, DR Congo’s national laboratory confirmed the current outbreak “is of the Zaire Ebola virus, the deadliest strain and the same one that affected West Africa during the 2014-2016 outbreak.”
The number of Ebola cases which surpassed 3,000, is regarded as “the country's largest-ever Ebola outbreak,” said MSF. “It (the number of cases) is also the second-biggest Ebola epidemic ever recorded, behind the West Africa outbreak of 2014-2016.”
MSF revealed that the number of reported Ebola cases in DR Congo doubled between April and June.
“During the first eight months of the epidemic, until March 2019, more than 1,000 cases of Ebola were reported in the affected region. However, between April and June 2019, this number doubled, with a further 1,000 new cases reported in just those three months,” read the report.
Between early June and the beginning of August, the average new Ebola cases reported were between 70 and 100 cases each week, the report added, explaining that since August, the rate of cases reported “has been slowly declining, with just 70 cases identified throughout all of October.”
The WHO said the recent Ebola outbreak in DR Congo since it was declared reached "3,340 cases (3,222 confirmed and 118 probable), including 2,207 deaths, 1,088 survivors, and patients still under care."
Ebola kills Congolese amid armed conflict outbreak
Despite of the health crisis in DR Congo over the recent outbreak, the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) had to suspend activity after four Ebola workers were killed in two armed attacks in the city of Beni.
"With civil unrest and violence continuing in the city of Beni, one of the Ebola epidemic hotspots in eastern DRC, the WFP-run UN Humanitarian Air Service is airlifting non-essential UN staff to Goma, capital of North Kivu province in eastern DRC," WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said at the time at a UN briefing.
Charlie Yaxley, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the UN and its humanitarian partners were "extremely concerned" for the safety and security of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the eastern Beni territory.
More than 100 civilians have been reportedly killed in attacks since Nov. 5 in North Kivo province, according to authorities.
Earlier this month, eight people were killed and nine kidnapped in Kivo's Masiani in Beni, sparking angry protests where residents stormed local UN facilities.
Protestors accuse the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and government forces of failing to protect civilians from the attacks which were blamed on members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group in Uganda and the DR Congo.
ADF rebels have been a menace in eastern DR Congo over the last two decades, attacking and killing civilians.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch released in August, armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern Kivu provinces killed 1,900 civilians and abducted more than 3,300 others between June 2017 and June 2019.
As viral infection does not recognize borders, many neighboring countries of the DR Congo had to take precautions directed and managed by the WHO for the recent outbreak which mainly included vaccine campaigns.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.