With 37 Ebola cases reported in the past 72 hours, the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) raged on this weekend and today, and the 16 cases reported yesterday are the most for a single day during this 8-month outbreak.
The new cases raise the outbreak total to 1,154, including 731 deaths, for a case-fatality rate of 63.3%. Nineteen of the recently reported cases were in Katwa, the main hot spot of virus activity since Jan 1. Butembo recorded 6 cases, Vuhovi 5, Mandima 4, Beni 2, and Oicha 1.
Beginning Apr 6 and through today, 29 deaths were recorded, including 13 community deaths. Community deaths, which take place outside of Ebola treatment centers, increase the risk of transmission to family members and funeral attendees. Today, the DRC said that, in North Kivu and Ituri, 53% of patients have been infected by family members.
Mobile help speed response
Yesterday the DRC health ministry published details about the laboratory units used by Ebola response teams in the region in an effort to fight the perception held by some local communities that labs were taking too long to give results.
The laboratories used in the outbreak are managed by the National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB.)
"To date, seven mobile laboratories have been established in Beni, Bunia, Butembo, Goma, Katwa, Komanda and Mangina. This is the first time that the INRB has had the technical capacity to deploy as many mobile laboratories in the field as part of an active Ebola outbreak," the DRC said. The labs in Beni, Butembo, and Katwa handle hundreds of samples collected each day.
DRC to invest in outbreak area
Also over the weekend, the DRC health ministry took action to correct one of the common refrains heard in community outreach meetings held in recent weeks: The DRC and the World Health Organization (WHO) do not do enough to invest in the outbreak zones outside of Ebola response efforts.
On Apr 6, DRC's Minister of Health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, said he had initiated discussions with the federal government to establish a medium- and long-term development plan to "restore the region socially and economically."
The first phase of the plan was implemented this week, with the recruitment of 1,000 people for road maintenance jobs in Butembo and Katwa.
Vaccine use in Rwanda
Finally today, the WHO tweeted that, beginning on Apr 15, 8,000 health workers in Rwanda will be vaccinated with Merck's rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine. Rwanda, like Uganda and South Sudan, will vaccinate at-risk populations near the DRC border in an effort to protect against the virus.
As of today, 96,664 people have received the vaccine in the DRC, including 24,136 in Katwa and 21,582 in Beni.
Apr 6 DRC report
Apr 7 DRC report
Apr 8 DRC report
WHO Rwanda Twitter feed