New violence in Beni, DRC, as Ebola lab targeted

Thieves robbed an Ebola lab in Komanda yesterday, taking laptops and a GeneXpert device used to test virus samples, the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) ministry of health said in yesterday's daily report.

No one was injured in the robbery, but in Beni, 12 people were killed on the evening of Jun 3, the DRC said. ISIL, the Islamic State, is claiming responsibility for the attack, and an Al Jazeera report suggests this is the group's response to an altercation last week between the Congolese military and the terrorist organization Allied Democracy Forces (ADF) that left 26 ADF members dead.

ISIL also took credit for supporting those ADF fighters.

Response efforts continue

The DRC said response efforts are still under way in Beni, despite the chaos.

"This Tuesday morning, hundreds of protesters took to the streets and several commercial activities were paralyzed in the city. The Beni response teams worked slowly and cautiously, but no response activity was temporarily suspended," the health ministry wrote.

Yesterday and today the ministry of health confirmed 17 new Ebola case and 11 deaths, raising outbreak totals to 2,025 cases and 1,357 deaths. A total of 295 suspected cases are still under investigation. The new cases come from current hotspots, including Mandima, Katwa, Mabalako, Butembo, Beni, and Kalunguta.

Another health worker has been infected with Ebola, this time a vaccinated worker in Beni. This raises to 110 the number of health workers infected during this outbreak. Thirty-seven health workers have died.

WHO notes violence but less intensity

In the latest outbreak situation report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the organization said there were some signs that transmission intensity was on the decline in North Kivu province.

A total of 88 confirmed cases were reported each week for the past 2 weeks, the WHO said, which is down from the peak of 126 cases per week observed in April.

"Concurrently, improvements  in  the  proportion  of  cases  among  contacts registered  prior  to  onset  (up  from  30%  three  weeks  ago  to  55%  last  week),  and  a  lower  proportion  of  cases resulting from transmission within community health facilities (from 31% during the first week of April 2019 to 9% during the last week of May 2019), are encouraging, although both indicators are below where we would aim to be," the WHO said.

Declines in transmission were most markedly seen in Katwa, Mandima, and Beni. In the last 3 weeks, more cases have been reported in Mabalako and Butembo.

The case-fatality ratio for the outbreak remains at 67%, and 29% of cases are in children under 18.

Vaccination efforts with Merck's VSV-EBOV continue with 130,254 people vaccinated as of today. According to the WHO, only 9.2% of current cases do not have a ring vaccination program in place.

More than 500 people have recovered from Ebola during this outbreak, and the WHO recently confirmed that trained psychological staff are being put in Ebola treatment centers throughout the region to help victims and survivors. Staff also focus on reintegrating survivors into communities and fighting lasting stigma.

 See also:

Jun 4 DRC update

Jun 5 DRC update

Jun 5 Al Jazeera article

Jun 5 WHO situation report

Jun 5 WHO psychological story

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