Congo’s new Ebola response coordinator has said half of the cases in the deadly outbreak remain undetected. Health experts fear the disease, which broke out a year ago, could spread into neighboring Rwanda.
149 health workers have now been infected with the deadly virus
the overall total at 2,620 cases, 1,756 of them fatal. So far the DRC president’s office, which earlier this week shifted outbreak response activities to its technical group, has not issued any detailed daily updates following the resignation of the country’s health minister.
Kalenga said that, as with any battle, lines of command must be clearly identified. “There can not be more than one decision-making center at the risk of creating confusions and cacophony that are detrimental to the response,” he said. Anticipating confusion that will result from putting the outbreak response in the hands of the committee, he added, “I hereby present you my resignation as Minister of Health.” Cases climb to 2,592 In a pair of daily updates over the weekend, the health ministry reported 32 more cases from a broad part of the outbreak region, though half of them were in Beni, a former epicenter where Ebola activity is resurging. Alongside 16 cases in Beni, other cities reporting cases include Oicha (4), Mandima (3), and Mabalako (3). Five areas each reported a single case: Vuhovi, Butembo, Mambasa, Lubero, and Masereka. Health officials are still investigating 361 suspected cases.
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Over the weekend and through today, the ministry of health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recorded 23 new Ebola cases and 19 deaths, while a Katwa hospital saw a violent attack that left one of the assailants dead. The totals swell outbreak numbers to 1,340 cases, of which 1,274 are confirmed. The number of deaths rose to 874.
The current outbreak has a case-fatality rate of 62%, the highest of any documented Ebola outbreak.
Doctors Without Border (MSF), which has been critical of the WHO’s response, said today that the organization was still failing to control the outbreak. “Whatever the official status of this outbreak is, it is clear that the outbreak is not under control and therefore we need a better collective effort. The virus has not spread to neighboring countries so far, but the possibility exists,” said Gwenola Seroux, emergency manager at MSF in a press statement. Ron Klain, the United States Ebola response coordinator during the West African outbreak, took to Twitter to criticize the WHO. “The response is failing to get the disease under control,” Klain said. “This is particularly worrisome given that — unlike the Ebola response in 2014-15 — this effort has the benefit of a highly effective vaccine that can prevent the disease’s spread.” Klain called for the US government to step up its response efforts for this crisis, and quickly. The United States has not had feet on the ground in the DRC since September, when Trump administration officials removed personnel amid security concerns.
A University of Arkansas biologist found a newly discovered species of ebolavirus, named Bombali, in a bat caught in Kenya. Bombali, which is not known to infect humans, had previously been found only in Sierra Leone, 3,400 miles to the west.
Alongside the slew of new cases, 12 more people died from their infections, as violence continued against outbreak responders.