By Prudence Arobani
World Health Organisation (WHO) experts said they have recorded 62 Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during this latest outbreak, with 38 confirmations and 27 deaths.
Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response of WHO, Dr Peter Salama reported in Geneva that “very strong progress” in response to the Ebola outbreak in the DRC, one month after the start of the diseases.
He said that the first phase – protecting urban centres and towns – “has gone well, and we can be cautiously optimistic.”
“There have been 62 Ebola cases in the DRC during this latest outbreak, with 38 confirmations and 27 deaths.
“The latest case, confirmed on Thursday, was in the remote Iboko health zone in the northwest, an indication that the outbreak is ongoing, he said.
Salama, who just returned from a two-day visit to the DRC said: “There’s been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro”.
Mbandaka, in northwest DRC, has a population of around one million,and it is the capital of Equateur province, where the small town of Bikoro also is located.
“We’re cautiously optimistic but there’s a lot of very tough work to do in phase two before we say that we’re on the top of this outbreak and we’ve learned the hard way in the past never to underestimate Ebola,” Salama said.
He said the focus now was on rural isolated communities in the Iboko health zone which would present logistical and other challenges.
Salama described it as among the most remote territory on Earth, mainly inhabited by indigenous populations, while WHO currently has 80 staff in the area.
“We’re talking about an enormous logistical effort required to reach every alert of a case. And then if there is a confirmation of a case, every contact of those cases,” he explained.