Ebola treatment center reopens after arson as cases near 900

The Ebola treatment center (ETC) in Butembo reopened Mar 2, just days after rebel forces set fire to the building, the ministry of health from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said in a statement yesterday.

So far 12 patients confirmed to have Ebola have been admitted. Without Doctors Without Borders, who staffed the ETC before the attack, the center is being run by workers from the ministry of health, the Word Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF.

The ministry of health also said construction is set to begin today on a new ETC in Katwa. The former ETC was also targeted by arsons last week.

The DRC also noted today that it has implemented an action plan to end community disruptions to officials' outbreak response efforts.

The developments have occurred against a backdrop of 8 new cases and almost 900 since the outbreak began in August 2018.

Shift of violence

In the latest bulletin from the WHO's African regional office, the WHO said the arson attacks are a major setback and represent a shift of violence in the region.

"In Butembo, where security incidents occurred on 27 February 2019, the proportion of contact follow-up decreased to 66% against an average of 76% in the previous seven days. In Vuhovi, the proportion of contacts followed on 2 March 2019 was 29% as a result of security conditions that prevented response activities and contact follow-up," the WHO said.

The virus still has a stronghold over Katwa and Butembo. Over the weekend, the DRC recorded 6 more Ebola cases: 3 in Katwa, 2 in Mandima, and 1 in Butembo. There were also four deaths, three of which occurred in Katwa.

Today the DRC's update noted 2 new cases and 2 deaths, all in Butembo. One of the new deaths happened in the community, which raises the risk of further disease spread.

The developments bring the outbreak total to 897 cases and 563 deaths, representing a case-fatality rate of 63%.

"Katwa Health Zone remains the main hot spot, reporting 62% (48/78) of the new confirmed cases in the past 21 days," the WHO said. "As of 2 March 2019, 14 of the 18 health areas in Katwa Health Zone reported confirmed cases in the past 21 days. Katwa, Butembo, Kaluguta and Mandima health zones have reported new confirmed cases in the past three days and remain points of attention."

The DRC added today, "The two health zones that continue to fuel this epidemic remain Butembo and Katwa, which reported more than 86% of new confirmed cases in the last 21 days. In the last 21 days, 80 new cases have been reported, including 48 in Katwa (60%) and 21 in Butembo (26.25%)."

In an encouraging trend, no new confirmed Ebola cases have been reported for 21 day in 11 of the 19 affected health zones (Biena, Kayna, Komanda, Mabalako, Manguredjipa, Msereka, Musienene, Mutwanga, Nyakunde, Oicha, and Tchomia). Another six health zones had one to four cases (Beni, Kalunguta, Kyondo, Mandima. Rwampara, and Vuhovi), the DRC said today.

Study estimates HCW vaccination impact

According to the DRC ministry of health today, 85,375 people have been vaccinated against Ebola, including 21,892 in Katwa, 20,740 in Beni, 10,628 in Butembo, and 6,109 in Mabalako

A new study published in Epidemics used data collected from 12 previous Ebola outbreaks to simulate the impact of healthcare worker vaccination on outbreak size and disease transmission. The study found that at 30% vaccine coverage, health worker vaccination had an impact on disease transmission in two types of simulated outbreaks.

See also:

Mar 4 WHO Africa regional report

Mar 4 DRC report

Mar 3 DRC report

Mar 2 DRC report

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