JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The risk of the deadly Ebola virus spreading from Congo is now “very high” after two confirmed cases were discovered near the Uganda border, the World Health Organization says.
The outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in northeastern Congo is now larger than the previous one in the northwest and more complicated to contain because of a dense, highly mobile population and a rebel threat so serious that some health workers say they’re operating in a war zone.
A deadly attack in Beni, the heart of Ebola containment efforts, forced the work to be suspended for two days earlier in the week.
That led the WHO’s emergencies chief, Peter Salama, to warn that insecurity, public defiance about vaccinations and politicians fanning fears ahead of elections in December could create a “perfect storm” leading the outbreak to spread.
As of Friday the outbreak had 124 confirmed Ebola cases, including 71 deaths. The previous outbreak in Congo’s Equateur province, declared over just a week before the current one was announced, had 54 confirmed cases, including 33 deaths.
This is the first time an Ebola outbreak has occurred in this part of Congo, affecting the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Health workers have had to combat various rumors and fears about the disease, which spreads via the body fluids of those infected, including the dead.