Community fears grow as DR Congo Ebola death toll climbs

GENEVA - Humanitarian workers are struggling to calm community fears in strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where 125 people have died of Ebola, and cases of the virus are spreading fast.

The World Health Organization said on Friday that 200 cases of the deadly virus have been registered in the outbreak first detected on August 1, with 165 of them laboratory confirmed and 35 considered probable.

The UN agency voiced concern over the swelling number of cases in recent weeks, especially in the town of Beni, near the Ugandan border.

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"Insecurity that has increased in the city is one of the reasons why we are seeing these new cases coming up," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

The latest outbreak -- the 10th in DR Congo since Ebola was first detected there in 1976 -- emerged in the highly-restive northeastern region of North Kivu, which is home to a clutch of armed groups.

The authorities in Beni have announced measures to protect health workers after a number of incidents where response teams were assaulted.

Fears and misconceptions about the virus have led to widespread mistrust and resistance to Ebola response workers, including those who come into communities wearing hazmat suits to orchestrate burials.

Source
AFP