Ebola virus

Ebola

James Gallagher

Health and science correspondent, BBC News

World Health Organization says Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo will become an emergency without more support.

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'Drastic action' needed to end Ebola, aid group says

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The aid agency, Mercy Corps, has warned that there can be no end in sight to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo unless "drastic action" is taken.

Health workers have been unable to contain the spread of the disease, spokesman Philippe Marcoux says, with about eight new cases every day.

Insecurity and mistrust have hampered the response. Three Ebola treatment centres have recently been attacked.

Mercy Corps says funds are urgently needed to pay for education programmes to help people understand how the disease is spread.

More than 1,000 people have contracted the virus during the current outbreak, which is the second-largest ever recorded.

More than 600 people have died since last August.

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The challenges of treating the Ebola crisis in the DRC

Cases of Ebola are increasing and rebels in the area have been attacking clinics
The Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is worsening. More than six hundred people have died since last summer and the number of cases has increased rapidly over the past week. Adding to the crisis, rebels in the region have been attacking the clinics treating Ebola sufferers. Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of Emergency, Preparedness and Response for the World Health Organisation explains the situation.

Photo: An Ebola treatment centre in Betembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo Credit: Getty Images

Ebola response 'failing in DR Congo'

Imogen Foulkes

BBC News, Geneva

A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a woman who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 18 August 2018
Reuters
People with Ebola are not coming forward because of a lack of trust

The response to the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is failing to bring the epidemic under control, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has said.

Despite new vaccines and treatments, people with Ebola have been dying in their communities because they do not trust the health response enough to come forward, MSF President Joanne Liu said at a press conference in Geneva.

MSF recently suspended its operations in the epicentre of the outbreak - in Katwa and Butembo in North Kivu province - following violent attacks on Ebola treatment centres.

Tackling Ebola in DR Congo was always going to be a huge challenge - decades of conflict mean health services are weak or non-existent, different communities fear one another, and they fear the security services.

Attempts by the authorities in DR Congo to force people to comply with Ebola control measures have proved counterproductive.

There have been dozens of attacks on health workers - meanwhile Ebola victims stay in hiding, no-one knows where they are or who they have been in contact with.

MSF estimates that in the last three weeks, 43% of new cases in the epicentre of the outbreak had no known links to other cases - that means Ebola is not being successfully tracked, and if it is not tracked, it cannot be controlled.

The charity says the Ebola response must change - no more coercion to track and treat patients, and more choice for families on how to manage the disease.

According to the WHO, 569 people have died since the outbreak began seven months ago.

Ebola in the DR Congo warzone
Violent attacks are making treating the worst Ebola outbreak in the history of DR Congo even harder.

Search for escaped Ebola patients in DR Congo

Anne Soy

BBC Senior Africa Correspondent

An health worker in protective gear holds up a vial of the Ebola vaccine
AFP
The current outbreak in began in July 2018 and is the 10th to hit the country

One police officer was killed and four Ebola patients are missing after the treatment centre they were in was attacked on Wednesday night in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is the second such attack in just three days by unknown assailants. In both cases, they set the treatment centres on fire and destroyed equipment.

The four missing Ebola patients who ran away from the treatment centre in Butembo would be highly infectious. DR Congo’s Ministry of Health says it is searching for them.

A further people 32 suspected to be carrying the virus also escaped when the armed attackers set the facility on fire.

It is not yet clear if the attackers wanted to free them.

Health workers have struggled to win the trust of local communities. More than 550 people have died from Ebola so far, making it the second largest ever.

The outbreak shows no sign of ending soon. The government says it will now send military officers to guard such facilities. Dozens of armed groups are active in the area affected by the outbreak.

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'Miracle baby' survives Congo Ebola outbreak

A baby girl who was admitted to an Ebola treatment centre just six days after birth has now recovered from the virus, health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have announced.

The baby is now the world's youngest survivor of what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak.

Her mother who had Ebola died during childbirth.

Health authorities say the baby is a “young miracle”.

She was discharged from a hospital in the conflict-ridden northern city of Beni on Wednesday, where she had received around-the-clock care for weeks.

“She went home in the arms of her father and her aunt,” the ministry said.

They tweeted a picture of the caregivers and the baby on Thursday:

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Few cases of infections in babies have been reported but experts suspect transmission might happen via breast milk or close contact with infected parents, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Ebola is typically spread by infected bodily fluids.

Children now account for more than one-third of all cases, according to the UN children's agency Unicef.

A total of 426 cases of the virus have now been reported in and around Beni, according to WHO.

Almost 209 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak.

More than 11,000 people died and more than 28,000 were infected in West Africa between 2014 and 2016 - the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.