WHO says Ebola could attack Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan unless attacks stop
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned it may not be possible to contain the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak to two affected provinces in the country’s east if violent attacks on health workers and treatment centres continue.
In a statement on Friday, WHO said it was “unlikely” the virus would “remain successfully contained” in North Kivu and Ituri – which combined, border Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan – unless the targeting of response activities ended.
The current outbreak is the second-worst in recorded history and has killed 1,105 people so far, with efforts to end the nine-month-old epidemic complicated by a volatile security situation and widespread community distrust.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said he was “profoundly worried” by the outbreak’s recent trends.
“The increased transmission rates raise the risk of Ebola spreading in DRC and to surrounding countries,” Ghebreyesus tweeted
“The tragedy is that we have the technical means to stop Ebola, but until all parties halt attacks on the response, it will be very difficult to end this outbreak,” he added.
Earlier this week, fighters from the armed Mai-Mai rebel group attacked a treatment centre in Butembo, a town at the epicentre of the crisis.
The assault followed a “violent attack” on a burial team on May 3 after they interred an Ebola victim in the town of Katwa, east of Butembo, WHO said, adding it was forced to halt response activities in Butembo and surrounding areas for five days due to the insecurity.
“The ongoing violent attacks sow fear, perpetuate mistrust, and further compound the multitude of challenges already faced by front-line healthcare workers,” the WHO said in its statement.