Health - Ebola Crisis Worsens
There's bad and and a little bit of good news about the Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo. The number of new infections doubled in January to from around 20 a week to more than 40.
The charity Save The Children says that a total of 97 children have died from the viral illness since the outbreak began in August, 65 of whom were younger than 5 years old.
"We are at a crossroads. If we don't take urgent steps to contain this, the outbreak might last another six months, if not the whole year," said Heather Kerr, Save the Children's DR Congo director. "It is paramount to convince communities that Ebola is an urgent and real concern. People have disrupted funerals because they didn't believe the deceased had succumbed to the virus. Aid workers were threatened because it was believed they spread Ebola," she added.
DRC's Ministry of Health says there have been 806 cases since August; 745 were confirmed infections, and 505 were fatal.
But Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga says experimental vaccines were administered to 76,425 people, preventing what he believes could have been "thousands" of deaths.
"I believe we have prevented the spread of the epidemic in the big cities" in the region, said Mr. Kalenga. "The teams also managed to contain its the spread of the epidemic to neighboring countries," he added.
Ebola is a highly contagious virus that causes hemorrhagic fever. The fatality rate in current epidemic in DR Congo is about 60 percent.