The Telegraph: Ebola death toll climbs to 34 as health workers struggle to contain latest outbreak in Congo

Excerpts from The Telegraph

Today than one million displaced people live in the area, with residents and traders routinely moving across local borders with Rwanda and Uganda.

All of this makes for a logistical nightmare for the people trying to trace the movement of one of the world’s most ruthless viruses.
But workers were still able to travel hundreds of miles by motorbike to trace people who had come into contact with the virus, a vital part of its containment. In North Kivu, however, the same work may have to do be done with armed escorts when traveling outside cities.

“The prolonged humanitarian crisis and deterioration of the security situation is expected to hinder response to this outbreak,” says Mr Jašarević.

After the virus was identified in Equateur in May, an experimental vaccine manufactured by the American pharmaceutical giant Merck was used early in the outbreak. It may have contributed to the outbreak’s quick containment and relatively low death rate. Between 2014 and 2016, more than 11,300 people died from the virus in West Africa.

There are still 3,200 doses of the vaccine that are currently be stored in the capital Kinshasa, and WHO says it can mobilize 300,000 more doses at short notice if required. The government has to approve the vaccine’s distribution by WHO before it can be given to people.

Health workers are now rushing to set up a cold chain to start vaccinating people in eastern part of the country on Wednesday, the DRC’s health ministry has said.

But the biggest constraint, says Mr Jašarević of WHO, will be “security and access issues and that ability to really determine the contacts of contacts of contacts.”


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