Ebola total reaches 300 as WHO, UN leaders travel to DRC

Over the weekend and today, 13 more cases and 5 more deaths from Ebola were reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) 3-month long outbreak of the virus in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

All but one of the cases are from Butembo and Beni, the current virus hotspots. Two of the new cases, a young mother and her 2-week old child, were diagnosed in Beni and later transferred to an Ebola treatment center in Mabalako at the family's request. Another patient is from Kalunguta.

The totals for the outbreak now stand at 300 cases (265 confirmed, 35 probable), including 186 deaths. In addition, 41 suspected cases are still under investigation.

The outbreak, the country's tenth, is its third largest.  It began in Mabalako at the beginning of August, just weeks after the DRC declared an end to another Ebola outbreak on the Western side of the country. That outbreak was brought to a swift end once Merck's experimental vaccine was put to use in a ring vaccination program that targeted case contacts and contacts of contacts.

The current outbreak has been marked by fits of virus activity and violence in the outbreak region, which has hampered response and vaccination efforts.

WHO, UN leaders to visit

Today leaders from the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations (UN) arrived in DRC to check in with outbreak response efforts.

Peter Salama, MD, the WHO's director-general of emergency preparedness and response, said on Twitter that he would be arriving in DRC today with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, and Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the under-secretary-general for the UN Peacekeeping forces.

"Looking forward to seeing our teams again and hearing what other support they need for the #Ebola response. So proud of their relentless hard work under the toughest conditions," Salama tweeted.

Last week, the United Nations ordered all armed rebel forces in the DRC to allow health workers and officials access in the outbreak zone, which has been the site of violent skirmishes among dozens of political groups, many of whom oppose outbreak response efforts.

Uganda OKs vaccine in health workers

Ainebyoona Emmanuel, the senior public realigns officer for the Ugandan Ministry of Health said on Twitter Uganda has officially approved the use of the vaccine for healthcare workers, a move hinted at last week.

He said health workers who will be doing the immunizing are undergoing retraining today and tomorrow and the first injections will be administered on Nov 7.

Though there has so far been no spillover of cases in Uganda, there have been several scares, and the nation is preparing for the worst. North Kivu and Ituri provinces border Uganda, and more than 1 million refugees live in the communities that straddle the border.

In the DRC as of today, a total of 26,463 people in the DRC have been vaccinated against the virus, including 14,033 in Beni, 4,436 in Mabalako, 2,152 in Katwa, 1,663 in Mandima, and 1,435 in Butembo.

See also:

Nov 3 DRC update

Nov 4 DRC update

Nov 5 DRC update

Peter Salama Twitter account

Ainebyoona Emmanuel Twitter account 

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