Militants in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have precariously attacked two Ebola treatment centers according to United Nation’s World Health Organization agency.
The WHO Spokesperson, Christian Lindmeier said on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland that two Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) facilities in Katwa and Butembo were invaded early this week resulting to fleeing of some Ebola patients.
“Worsening security in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo marked by attacks on Ebola clinics have made it a given that the deadly virus will spread further,” said the Spokesman.
He noted that WHO is doing everything and engaging everyone to ensure that the operation to overcome the current Ebola outbreak continues, he insisted.
The agency and its partners are reportedly relying on armed protection from UN peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), to operate in a region that’s home to more than 100 non-State armed groups.
“In the light of the recent attacks and enhanced discussion with MONUSCO forces, with local authorities, we’re working on improving security to ensure that patients and staff are better protected and that everything can be done to get this outbreak under control.”
According to the DRC health authorities, the latest outbreak of Ebola, which began on August 1st 2018, has claimed 555 lives.
There have been 885 cases of the virus – which is endemic in the vast country, causing high fever, bleeding and death in around 60 per cent of cases – with 820 confirmed infections and 65 probable.
Mr. Lindmeier confirmed that following Wednesday’s arson attack on the Butembo facility, four patients had fled, and run away while the attack was ongoing.
WHO and MSF staff were reportedly unhurt, but security personnel registered casualties.
“It’s a very understandable reaction that under fire you try to save your own life more than anything,” the WHO spokesperson said, in relation to the missing patients.
Three of the patients have reportedly returned voluntarily, but one patient is still missing.
Health workers are also said to be facing resistance from some local communities in trying to trace anyone who might have come into contact with infected carriers.
“Apart from the obstacles we are facing there are ongoing rumors in the communities that the Ebola virus doesn’t even exist,” said Lindmeier.