The slow rise in new Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continued over the weekend and through today, with four new cases—and with outbreak responders tracking the movements of a patient who fled into the community, potentially exposing others to the virus.
Daily updates from the DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) show that the latest cases are all from the current main hot spots, which are rural and pose a host of access and security problems.
Of the four new cases, one was reported today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) online Ebola dashboard. The new cases push the outbreak's overall total to 3,264, a number that includes 117 probable cases.
Health officials are still investigating 357 suspected cases.
Patient flees into community
In its last three daily updates, the CMRE said the latest new cases are in Mabalako in North Kivu province and Mandima in Ituri province. The main epicenter in Mandima has been the Biakato Mines area, the source of about half of the recently reported cases.
The WHO said in one of its most recent updates that health officials are concerned about people exposed to Ebola in Biakato Mines who travel to other areas, increasing the risk of spread to new areas or reigniting transmission in earlier affected locations.
On Oct 26, the CMRE noted that of four new cases reported on Oct 25, three were in Mabalako and one in Mandima. In updates on Oct 27 and today, the CMRE reports covered three new cases: two in Mandima and one in Mabalako.
In its report yesterday, the CMRE said an investigation is still under way into a patient whose illness was confirmed on Oct 23 in Mandima and who fled into the community.
Three more people died from their infections, raising the fatality count to 2,181. The latest CMRE reports have a few details on three deaths, two of which occurred in the community in Mandima and another reported in a patient at Mabalako's Ebola treatment center.
Deaths that happen in the community raise the risk of disease spread.
WHO Ebola dashboard
Oct 25 CMRE report
Oct 26 CMRE report
Oct 27 CMRE report