Ebola virus mass outbreak in WEEKS: 'Perfect storm' brewing in Congo, WHO saysSeptember 25, 2018
Speaking at a press conference at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr Peter Salama said ongoing violent disputed between armed groups, community resistance to the advice of public health officials, and the geographic spread of the disease were making a bad situation worse.
He said: “We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a perfect storm.
“The response is facing a series of grave obstacles.
“The first is insecurity. We have seen an increased frequency and increased severity of attacks by armed opposition groups own recent weeks, particularly attacks by the Alliance for Democratic Forces, but also other armed opposition groups in the picture as well.”
Recent weeks had been characterised by attacks which “indiscriminately” targeted civilians, including one which resulted in the deaths of at least 21 people.”
Problems were being made worse by ignorance about the illness in some areas.
Dr Salama said most of the community was engaging with health workers but said:
we do see really difficult pockets of community reluctance, refusal and resistance.
“Particularly there has been one in and around Beni in a small village called NDingi which has been responsible for a large proportion of cases in the last few weeks.
“That resistance driven by quite natural fear of this terrifying disease is starting to be exploited by local politicians and we are very concerned in the run-up to the elections projected for December, that that exploitation of this very natural fear will gather momentum and make it even more difficult to root out the last cases of Ebola.”
Small numbers of people refusing active-follow-up, refusing to be cared for in the Ebola treatment unit and actively fleeing from the responders into the forests, for hundreds of kilometres in some cases, he said.
He added: “We now have wide geographical spread of Ebola also into red zones from a security perspective and also into broader areas with surrounding countries such as Uganda.”
The WHO’s warnings echo those of Dr Inger Damon of the US-based Centre for Disease Control, who told Express.co.uk earlier this month: “Education is key – this is something we find with every outbreak.
“Good engagement with the community is critical.
“If they don’t have the right type of information they tend to be very reactive.