DRC Reports Several New Ebola Cases Amid Continued Bouts of Violence In North Kivu

    /    Oct 9, 2018   /     Africa, Latest Posts  /    Comments are closed  /    436 Views

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported 12 new cases of Ebola in the North Kivu province, with most concentrated in Beni, the epicenter of the current outbreak which has been disrupted by recent bouts of violence on Tuesday.

The latest figures now make a total of 142 confirmed cases of Ebola and 35 probable cases, including 113 deaths.

Eleven cases are still under investigation by DRC officials.

The government said the new cases were from a “second wave of confirmed cases among refractory contacts” in the Ndindi neighborhood of Beni, an area that has been resistant to the outbreak response efforts from humanitarian groups and health officials since August.

Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the DRC’s minister of health, visited the area last week to announce a shift in strategy for fighting the Ebola outbreak.

“The city of Beni has been divided into 18 operational zones that correspond to the 18 health areas of the city. From now on, each health area will have a specific response team to carry out activities corresponding to the different pillars of the response,” the DRC said, also reporting more healthcare personnel would be dispatched to the region.

The DRC said an in-depth investigation revealed the last five confirmed cases in Beni revealed three probable cases in deceased persons who were buried before they were tested, which officials said was a cause for concern since the burial process in the DRC often involves mourners washing the body of the deceased before burial.

The Lancet also published a study this week which included data from a survey given to more than 580 residents in the current outbreak areas which revealed the recent heavy violence was taking a toll on the response efforts in Mangina, Beni, and Butembo.

The responses showed residents in North Kivu were more likely to resist response efforts and said heavy violence was obstructing their access to health care.

Another attack occurred earlier this week int he North Kivu area which left 14 villagers dead and another nine wounded in a fight over the mining of coltan, a rare minera used in manufacturing smartphones.

DRC officials dispatched more soldiers to the village of Rubaya after the attack which was blamed on the rebel Mai Mai group, which operates in the area and finances its operations through coltan sales.

The Washington Post reported how recent Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege who is known for his work on rape as a weapon of war in the DRC started a campaign to call on electronic companies to ensure they are not using blood minerals from the region.

Dozens of rebel groups operate in the DRC and fight for control over the rare minerals, often targeting women and girls with sexual violence during their attacks.

The World Health Organization has already expressed grave concern over the Ebola virus spreading into the “red zones” controlled by the rebel groups and would be unsafe for health care workers to be dispatched in the area.

“It’s a totally unprecedented situation … potentially explosive,” Anne Rimoin, an associate professor of epidemiology at UCLA who directs teams of researchers in the Ebola outbreak zone, told The Post.

She said the threats limit healthcare officials working hours limited to daylight and need armed escorts, typically UN peacekeepers or Congolese security forces.

“That is very unlike other outbreaks,” Rimoin said, noting how many of the communities have been “already traumatized by decades of conflict” so the armed escorts make locals leery of trusting healthcare teams.

After an attack targeted Red Cross workers who were gravely injured, the UN Security Council called for an end to hostilities as it prepares to visit the DRC and address the nearly 1 million people displaced by the conflict in the Ebola outbreak zone in North Kivu province.

WN.com, Maureen Foody

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