Fear and suspicion hinder Congo medics in Ebola battle

Fear and suspicion hinder Congo medics in Ebola battle

Saturday, a helicopter with Congo's health minister on board, flew to Iboko and Bikoro to administer a new experimental vaccine to the health works being deployed to investigate those in contact with the confirmed dead.

The ministry of health, Congo has confirmed another Ebola death, increasing the death toll to 12.

Many experts and health observers say the local and worldwide response has been swift to the outbreak in northwestern DRC.

The number of cases of the hemorrhagic fever in the DRC reached 54 last Thursday, including 35 confirmed cases.

The death happened in Iboko, a rural area in northwestern Equateur province, the health ministry said in a statement.

Representatives of the World Health Organization and UNICEF accompanied the health minister.

Since the Ebola outbreak this year in Congo, health workers have done their best to identify as many cases of Ebola infection and to also find the people in contact with the infected patients.

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Of the 10 confirmed Ebola deaths, five have occurred in Bikoro, two in Iboko and three in the Wangata area of Mbandaka. This can make monitoring, finding and containing the infected people a lot more hard. Until now, over 600 people that came into contact with the infected or suspected have been identified.

"I am personally committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to stop this outbreak as soon as possible", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting in Geneva on Saturday.

Since the first outbreak was recorded early this month, there have been growing fears with more than twice as many Ebola outbreaks in the DRC as any other country since the virus was discovered in 1976.

It is vital that medical care remains available to the entire population needing medical treatment not related to the Ebola virus disease (malaria, chronic illnesses, obstetric care, etc).

There is no specific treatment for Ebola.

"At the moment, World Health Organization uses the "ring vaccination" approach" to vaccinate people who came in contact with the ones infected or who are suspected to be infected and those who were in contact with the suspected. After an incubation period that lasts between 2 to 21 days, the infected person may present symptoms such as high fever, headaches, muscular pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases internal and external hemorrhages.

When Ebola hit the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013 and 2014, killing more than 11,000 people, suspicion of health workers in their spacesuit-like protective gear also prompted patients to flee, helping accelerate the disease's spread.