PHOTO PHOTO: A Congolese health worker prepares to administer the Ebola vaccine outside the house of a victim who died from Ebola in the village of Mangina in the province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on August 18, 2018. REUTERS / Olivia Acland / File Photo
KINSHASA (Reuters) – The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the most severe in the country's history, with 319 confirmed and probable cases, the health minister said on Friday.
Hemorrhagic fever is believed to have killed 198 people in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, where armed groups' attacks and community resistance to health officials complicated the response.
Congo suffered 10 epidemics of Ebola because the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976.
"The current epidemic is the worst in the history of the DRC," said Jessica Ilunga, the spokesman for the Reuters ministry.
With more than 300 cases, the epidemic is also the third situation in the history of the continent following the West Africa epidemic 2013-2016, where over 28,000 cases and an outbreak in Uganda in 2000, involving 425 cases.
World Health Organization General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday that security was the main challenge in the current epidemic, followed by mistrust in the community.
"When there is an attack, the surgery freezes, so we keep the surgery. And when the surgery stops, the virus advances and affects us in two ways," he told reporters in Kinshasa.
"And one is caught on the backload, because when the operations are stopped, there is always a load of vaccines or contacting the follow up." And the second, the second is that more cases are generated because we can not vaccinate them, "said he.
Confirmation of new cases has accelerated in the past month and an emergency committee of World Health Organization experts said in October that the outbreak might worsen significantly if the response was not intensified.
Reporting by Giulia Paravicini; Additional reporting by Fiston Mahamba; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Hugh Lawson