World Health Organization suspends Ebola work in Congo amid militant attacks

Ebola Eastern Congo

Ebola Eastern Congo

The health ministry says 100 people have died in the current outbreak in the east of the country.

"We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together in the next weeks or months to create a potentially ideal storm", the Australian epidemiologist added.

Butembo could also declare a "ville morte" in coming days in sympathy with the people of Beni, he said, potentially increasing the chances of the situation deteriorating rapidly.

"Politicians in the region are also stoking the mistrust ahead of upcoming elections in December, " the Australian epidemiologist added. Ebola's symptoms include high fever and vomiting, which make it hard to treat, because it resembles many other illnesses in its early stages. "A flawless storm of active conflict, limiting our ability to access civilians, distress by segments of the community, already traumatized by decades of conflict and of murder".

The Ebola outbreak in the region has resulted in almost 150 cases and had been linked to 100 deaths as of Saturday, Dr. Salama said in a series of Twitter posts Monday.

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Some people were fleeing into the forest to escape Ebola follow-up treatment and checks, sometimes moving hundreds of kilometres, he said.

The attack underscores the challenges the government and health organisations face in tackling Ebola in an area where years of instability has undermined locals' confidence in the authorities. Congo's ministry of health has gained a reputation for being particularly adept at containing the disease, but many factors in this current outbreak make that hard.

More than 1 million internally displaced people are in North Kivu and Ituri, according to World Health Organization; the movement of refugees through and out of the provinces is a potential risk factor for spread of Ebola.

A Uganda-based rebel group called the Allied Defense Forces has been especially destructive, Salama said. The ADF rebels have been able to overrun Congolese military bases and ambush United Nations peacekeeping forces, he said.

According to Salama, there have been 150 confirmed and probable cases, with over 100 deaths in the DRC as a result of the Ebola outbreak that was first registered in the country on August 1, mostly hitting the Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

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