The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ministry of health today and over the weekend confirmed 18 new Ebola cases, including 9 deaths, in the ongoing outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the northwest.
The new cases bring the outbreak total to 539, of which 491 are confirmed and 48 are probable. Officials have recorded 315 deaths since the outbreak began in August, and 75 cases are still under investigation.
In the past 3 days, new cases were recorded in Mabalako (4), Butembo (4), Katwa (5), Komanda (3), and 1 each in Oicha and Kalunguta.
On Dec 15, four of the five deaths recorded were classified as community deaths, which means they took place outside a healthcare or treatment center setting, and thus increase the risk of community transmission.
Vaccination efforts continue
Today the ministry of health said that vaccination efforts were still ongoing, and primary care providers in Goma, North Kivu's capital and largest city, were being vaccinated with Merck's unlicensed Ebola vaccine.
Since late August, 48,048 people have been vaccinated in the DRC, including 19,017 in Beni, 8,619 in Katwa, 5,077 in Mabalako, and 4,974 in Butembo.
Bishop Sikuli Paluku, the bishop of the Butembo-Beni diocese, launched the "Family Without Ebola" campaign throughout the district of Butembo-Beni, the ministry of health said on Dec 15.
Asking for youth engagement, the bishop said Catholics must act to protect themselves, their families, and neighbors from Ebola.
The bishop also referred to community resistance to health workers "inhuman and cruel mischief," and warned against exhuming the graves of Ebola patients.
Today was also the final game in a football (soccer) tournament held in Beni, called "Ebola Pas Chez Moi" (Ebola not in my house). The activity was meant to educate local youth on the risk of Ebola transmission and the importance of cooperation with response workers.
"The coordination of the Ebola response organized this football tournament in Beni and Butembo in order to build trust with the youth of both cities," the ministry of health said.
"It was observed that young people were often the source of reluctance in the community and the first perpetrators of destruction of sanitary materials. The aim of the football tournament was to appease this youth, raise awareness about Ebola, and invite them to take ownership of the Ebola response to end the epidemic."
Dec 15 DRC update
Dec 16 DRC update
Dec 17 DRC update