KINSHASA – When Missions Box News last reported on the outbreak of the Ebola virus on 15 December 2018, the deadly epidemic had already become the second-largest outbreak of the disease in history.
At that time, 425 people were known to have contracted the Ebola virus and nearly 250 had perished – double the numbers reported in September 2018.
Only six weeks later, as of 27 January, according to the DRC Ministry of Health, 733 cases have been reported with 459 fatalities – again, nearly double the 15 December counts. Another 165 cases are under investigation.
Since the medical campaign began on 8 August 2018, over 68,000 people have been treated with the fVSV-ZEBOV vaccine manufactured by Merck.
A total of 256 people confirmed to have contracted the Ebola virus have been cured, signaling some cause for hope in the country.
The International Rescue Committee’s Stacy Mearns described the situation on the ground as “complex and very challenging” in the midst of “a very dynamic and volatile security situation.” She noted that several aid agencies had to cease operations and evacuate staff for several days around Christmas because of “ongoing, active conflict and attacks from armed rebel troops.”
Over the past week, we’ve recorded the biggest number of cases on a daily basis. And we’ve also seen increasing geographic spread of the outbreak.
The movement of many Congolese escaping immediate areas of conflict makes it unusually difficult for humanitarian aid and medical workers to successfully implement their “double ring” strategy. Neighboring Uganda began vaccinating more than 2,600 front-line aid workers in high-risk areas of that country in November.
Meanwhile, Merck has delivered more than 2,000 doses of vaccine to healthcare workers in high-risk areas of South Sudan. The World Health Organization has sent a contingent of staff members to train those workers on proper clinical practice and protocol procedures for administering the vaccine.
On a brighter note, Sight Magazine reported that some who have recovered after contracting the deadly virus are pitching in to assist in the clinics. Research has demonstrated that Ebola survivors gain immunity to the virus.
Twelve survivors are assisting in a nursery for children who have been separated from their parents. Another 40 are working in community engagement with the Red Cross. Yet another 20 are working with patients at a center in the city of Beni.
One assisting survivor said, “I tell the patients my story. It helps them.”
The head of operations for the Ebola response for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies noted that “Having someone go through this horrible experience and come out alive shows people that they can survive the disease and that we are there to [help] them.”
To read more news on the Ebola Outbreak on Missions Box, go here.
- Sight Magazine, Ebola survivors turn disease fighters as Congo outbreak rages on
- France 24, Ebola death toll surges in DR Congo
- Relief Web, South Sudan vaccinates health workers against Ebola
- DRC Ministry of Health, Epidemiological Situation in the Provinces of North Kivu And Ituri
- By NIAID (Ebola Virus Particles) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons