‘Perfect storm’ of risks threatens DRC Ebola response

Rebel attack in Congo Ebola zone kills 18

Reports say Ebola prevention activities have been suspended in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Beni after a deadly rebel attack.

"We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks to months to create a potential ideal storm", Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's head of emergency preparedness, said in a statement.

WHO's Emergency Response Chief and Australian epidemiologist, Peter Salama, told a news conference in Geneva that Ebola had claimed 100 lives since the deadly virus outbreak almost two months ago in North Kivu.

The outbreak, the 10th in DRC's history, has killed 100 people since being declared on August 1 in the eastern part of North Kivu, the World Health Organization said. The first began in May and caused ripples of fear throughout the global health community when it reached Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million on the banks of the heavily trafficked Congo and Ruki rivers.

Health officials said it could hinder the response there to Ebola, a serious, often-fatal disease that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads from human to human through the bodily fluids of people who exhibit symptoms.

Ebola's devastating power was proved during a harrowing 30-month period between 2014 and 2016 when it swept across West Africa, killing more than 11,000 and infecting 28,000.

The deteriorating security situation over the past two months in North-Kivu has also impacted hunger levels.

Those on lockdown include the teams that distribute vaccinations, those who track family, friends and others who came in contact with those infected, and those who educate the public by working directly with the community. "An added complication here is that some of these fighters may have been exposed to Ebola, and yet they'll be even more hard to track down than ordinary civilians".

"We will not yet consider the need to evacuate but we are developing a range of contingency plans to see where our staff are best located", he said. The previous outbreak, in the west of the country, killed 33 people, according to the government.

Politicians in the region are also stoking the mistrust ahead of upcoming elections in December, Salama added.

A Uganda-based rebel group called the Allied Defense Forces has been especially destructive, Salama said.

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