The Ebola epidemic declared on August 1 in the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is the largest in the history of the country in relation to the number of infections, which adds 319.
"(This outbreak) has just surpassed the first recorded epidemic in history (from DRC, then Zaire) in 1976 in Yambuku, in the northwestern province of Ecuador, to date, there were 319 cases and 198 deaths," the minister of health, Oly Ilunga, in a statement.
So far, the outbreak in Yambuku, after the discovery of this disease – which was named by the Congolese Ebola river – was not only the deadliest in the history of the country with 280 deaths, but also in which there were more infections (318).
This epidemic, with 198 deaths, according to data released today by the Congolese Ministry of Health on November 8, is the third deadliest in the country, only after the first outbreak in 1976 and the third one declared in 1995 in the Kikwit City, where 250 people died people.
"No other epidemic in the world was as complex as we are living," Ilunga said, also remembering the rejection, threats and aggressions commonly faced by the medical and humanitarian teams deployed in the area.
The strong rejection generated by a large part of the population to be treated against Ebola – due to ignorance, fear of a fatal illness and cultural beliefs – is aggravated by the instability that plagues these regions of the northwest of the Congo.
It is the first time that an epidemic of Ebola is declared in a zone of conflict where a hundred armed groups operate, which causes the continuous displacement of hundreds of thousands of people who could be in contact with the virus.
Insecurity complicates and limits the work of health personnel who, when carrying out safe burials, have suffered attacks or have been kidnapped by rebel groups, as happened with three civil protection agents and an epidemiologist in the city of Matembo.