News World Ebola death toll in Congo passes 200

Ebola death toll in Congo passes 200

Medical workers check on a patient with ebola at Beni in August. Photo: AFP/Getty
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Ebola has killed 201 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since an outbreak started two months ago in the country’s east.

There have been 291 confirmed cases of the virus, half of which were in North Kivu region’s Beni, a city of some 800,000 people, the health ministry said.

Over 28,000 people in the central African nation have received a vaccine to prevent Ebola.

This is Congo’s 10th outbreak since 1976, when the haemorrhagic fever was first identified in Yambuku, in the Equateur province, the ministry said.

Health workers carry out the body of a patient with unconfirmed Ebola virus in Mangina, near Beni, in August. Photo: AFP/Getty

Health Minister Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga said the figures now exceed that outbreak.

“No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing,” Dr Kalenga said.

“Since their arrival in the region, the response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment, and kidnapping. Two of our colleagues in the Rapid Response Medical Unit even lost their lives in an attack.”

Earlier this month, the health ministry said it will install health checkpoints at the entrances to all polling stations in Congo’s Ebola-affected region during the December presidential election, when millions of Congolese are expected to come out to vote.

The outbreak is concentrated in a region where numerous militia groups are fighting over Congo’s rich natural resources.

Besides militia attacks that have hindered health workers, the region’s high population density and movements across the borders to Uganda and Rwanda pose additional risks the highly lethal disease could spread in the region.

The outbreak began shortly after the Congo’s government declared an end to another outbreak in the west of the country in June and lauded those involved for managing to swiftly contain the spread of the disease.