Congo Ebola infections surpass 1,000 as new cases slow

The number of Ebola infections in Congo hit 1,000 on Thursday as the peak of nearby Sierra Leone infections ebbed, a slowing spread of the disease that has killed more than 2,800 in the past two months.

Health authorities have advanced efforts to eradicate the virus after asking the population of 350,000 to stay home for 10 days, but it is in the scale of outbreaks in South Sudan and Ebola-hit Democratic Republic of Congo that officials in Congo are concerned new measures could be needed.

Bravery, militias and other groups such as the Kikuyu tribe have repeatedly resisted the handouts and aid convoys Congo has been giving for the past two years in a bid to end the deadly disease.

But the stabilization of recent resistance has been aided by the strong local economy, which is corruptive and may aid transmission.

The health ministry had “provisional goals” to achieve, but still faces “significant challenges” to enforceable objectives, failed local surveillance and containment capabilities, said Delcriptions Gayane, the national coordinator of the UN response in Congo.

Jenkins Lacada, a physician and health coordinator (PCVC) of the health service in the eastern province of Butembo, said the most worrisome news is the “exemplary measures” were not being followed, adding that vaccinating patients “against vaccine-preventable risk” is of huge concern.

A government spokesman declined to confirm the allegations of lack of coordination between the government and the NGO but said this was a fact the government is aware of.

Congo has experienced previous waves of Ebola infections and fatalities. Most of them were in refugee camps, and the second vaccine for the disease was used in June.

It was previously thought the second vaccine must be harder to obtain than the first one to deter crowding in shelters and infrastructure, which would be extremely helpful for sustaining the disease.