Ebola deaths top 1,000 in Congo amid clinic attacks

Ebola deaths top 1,000 in Congo amid clinic attacks

More than 1,000 people have died in an epidemic of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Despite the mounting death toll, the World Health Organization has said the outbreak remains geographically isolated and hasn't spread to neighbouring countries.

As of May 1, there have been 1,510 Ebola cases in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, with 994 deaths, but that number surpassed 1,000 when Congo's Health Ministry released its daily figures on Friday.

Ebola treatment centres and health workers have repeatedly been subject to violence, complicating efforts to contain the deadly virus.

Rachel Kahindo, Ebola survivor working as a caregiver to babies who are confirmed Ebola cases, holds an infant outside the red zone at the Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 25, 2019.

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"Since October 2018 the number of safe and dignified burials requested from communities has tripled, and this kind of work needs to continue if we are going to beat this disease", said Nicole Fassina.

On Friday, Michael Ryan, WHO's emergencies chief, warned at a press conference in the Swiss city of Geneva that insecurity had become a "major impediment to ensuring that we can access, engage with and serve the communities we wish to serve in Ebola control". Earlier this month, armed men killed World Health Organization epidemiologist Dr. Richard Mouzoko in an attack in Butembo. "Community trust and safety, as well as community engagement and ownership of the response is critical".

According to a recent study by the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, some 32 percent of respondents in Ebola-hit regions of the eastern DRC said they did not believe the virus existed and was instead invented for financial gains. It was named after the Ebola River when it was detected in DRC.

It is already the second worst Ebola outbreak in history, although some way behind the 2014 West Africa epidemic which killed 11,000 people.

A ministry statement sent to dpa said 1,008 people have now died from the virus, while 1,529 cases have been recorded.

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