Tests confirm 11 more Ebola infections in DRC, 560 total

The number of people infected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak grew by 11 today, which includes 6 new cases and 5 delayed reports from illnesses confirmed earlier this week, according to the latest health ministry update.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) today in its latest snapshot of the epidemic said that, despite widespread continuing cases, activity is declining in Beni, which it sees as a promising development.

New cases in 5 locations

The 11 additional cases involve patients from five different locations: 7 from Komanda and 1 each from Katwa, Butembo, Kalunguta, and Beni. The latest infections lift the overall number of cases to 560, including 512 confirmed and 48 listed as probable.

Ten more deaths were reported, four them involving the delayed case reports from Komanda. The others include 3 in Beni, 2 in Butembo, and 1 in Komanda. Two of the deaths occurred in the community, a factor known to raise the risk of virus spread. So far, 336 fatalities have been reported in the outbreak.

The health ministry said officials are still investigating 87 suspected Ebola cases and that the number of people vaccinated since Aug 8 has reached 49,940.

Health minister visits outbreak region

In its update today, the ministry said DRC Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, PhD, made a 4-day visit to Beni, Goma, and Butembo this week to assess challenges for implementing the second phase of the response plan and to prepare for the third phase, which will cover February to April.

Today, Ilunga visited Beni, where new measures instituted in October have significantly reduced the number of cases. Only one new case has been reported in recent days in the city, which has been the main hot spot.

WHO: Cases continue over dispersed area

In an update today, the WHO said, despite ongoing community resistance and conflict obstacles, responders are making meaningful progress in the outbreak region, especially in Beni, where cases have declined in recent weeks.

Control of the outbreak there, and previously in Mangina, shows what can be achieved when response activities scale up and local communities participate. The WHO noted that the nature of the challenges varies in the latest emerging disease clusters. "The introduction, acceptance, and resulting impact of interventions on the epidemiology of the outbreak will take time," it said.

Ebola transmission continues to occur over a dispersed area covering 14 health zones, and the only zone that hasn't had new confirmed cases since August is Tchomia. The WHO said the latest activity has been amplified by a combination of community transmission and transmission within local and private health centers.

Over the past week, two more infections were reported in healthcare workers, raising the total to 55, which includes 19 deaths, the WHO said.

See also:

Dec 20 DRC update

Dec 20 WHO update

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