An Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo has moved into its most worrying stage yet, with the World Health Organization's head of emergency response warning of a "perfect storm" of factors preventing its containment.
Congo's health ministry says more than 5.3 million people have been checked for Ebola at various points along the heavily traveled border. The WHO report states that continued challenges include: contacts lost to follow-up, delayed recognition of EVD in health centres, poor infection prevention and control in health centres, and reluctance among some cases to be treatment in Ebola treatment centres. An additional 31 deaths have occurred among probable and suspected cases, which would bring total Ebola deaths to 100 once confirmed.
The latest violence, which sparked local anger, comes just three months before the Democratic Republic of Congo holds a fractious election to choose a successor to Joseph Kabila, the country's deeply-contested president.
"We call on the worldwide community to continue to fund the response", he said, "both in North Kivu, but also, and this is increasingly important, in the neighbouring provinces of the Kivus and Ituri, and in surrounding countries".
Deadly: Eastern DR Congo is struggling with militia violence and an outbreak of Ebola.
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"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 North Kivu province is the epicenter of the outbreak, though some cases have been reported in neighboring Ituri province as well, according to WHO.
He also noted that other communities in the area, like in the town of Butembo, have also considered declaring several days of mourning in solidarity with Beni.
"Beyond the medical response, the only way to end the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic remains the mobilization and commitment of the community alongside the health authorities", Kalenga said in a statement. Congo's ministry of health has gained a reputation for being particularly adept at containing the disease, but many factors in this current outbreak make that hard.