The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has revealed a significant increase in the number of new Ebola cases in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to a statement released by the organisation on October 11 in New York, as of October 9, there have been 194 confirmed and probable cases and 120 deaths from this Ebola outbreak. In just nine days, there have been 33 new cases and 15 deaths. This is in contrast to 41 new cases and 27 deaths in the entire month of September. We are seeing 2.5 times the number of new cases each day compared to the previous month.
The vast majority of these new cases and deaths are occurring in Beni, the new epicenter of the outbreak. Violence and insecurity led to a suspension of Ebola response programming between September 25 and 29, and yesterday, once again, programs were temporarily suspended due to violence. IRC teams are still waiting for the green light to resume their activities.
Michelle Gayer, Senior Director of Emergency Health at the International Rescue Committee, said: “The current spike in Ebola cases and deaths is extremely worrying. The number of new cases each day has more than doubled since the start of October. It’s likely that the forced suspension in programming due to insecurity and community resistance in and around Beni are major factors in this.
“This is a sign not only that the outbreak is not under control, but that without full engagement from the community, things could get a lot worse. We have recently seen the transmission of Ebola within a school, opening up a new front in the fight against the disease.”
She added: “We are operating within a highly volatile environment where the security situation continues to deteriorate, threatening the lives and livelihoods of the community and disrupting the response. Programs are again suspended today due to unrest and violence. Each time the Ebola response is interrupted lives are at risk. Teams are not able to trace the contacts of patients, vaccinate those in need and ensure safe burial practices.
“We are at a critical moment in the response and our teams are highly concerned that the number of new cases could continue to escalate. It’s vital that over the coming days organizations continue to work alongside the local community to strengthen the relationship and work to increase access to people in need.”
The IRC is operating in and around Beni, as well as in other areas affected by this Ebola outbreak, to limit and control the spread of the disease. In Beni Hospital and surrounding clinics, the IRC is leading on infection prevention and control, which is vital to halt the spread of the disease. The IRC has been operating in North Kivu since 1996, providing emergency health services to the community.