Continued attacks by rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is keeping health officials from combatting the spread of an Ebola outbreak in the affected areas.
With support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health has been trying to contain the outbreak, which is most prominent in the city of Beni but has also spread throughout North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Thus far, 159 deaths have been linked to the outbreak, which began almost three months ago, and as many as 247 are infected. Health officials warn those numbers could increase greatly unless a proper response is allowed to proceed.
Because the risk of spread remains high, WHO reports has no plan to reduce its more than 250 person response team. They are calling for enhanced efforts to prepare in areas adjacent to those infected, allowing for rapid detection, investigation, and response. In the affected areas themselves, priorities remain on coordinating surveillance, contact tracing, lab capacity, infection prevention and control, clinical management of patients, vaccination, communication and engagement, psychosocial support, safe burials, and cross-border surveillance.
To date, more than 22,000 people have been vaccinated in the region. Health screening has been established at 64 points of entry to crack down on contamination, while diagnostic testing capability is being expanded to meet growing patient and location spread. WHO noted that global risk of the disease remains low, though national and regional vulnerability is high. No restriction of travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been advised.