GENEVA (Reuters) – Military violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has prevented relief workers from reaching a number of potential cases in an Ebola outbreak that has killed 47 people so far, according to the World Health Organization on Friday.
More than 2,000 people may have been exposed to the virus that started in the province of North Kivu, but the violence means that officials are not sure if they have identified all the chains they are spreading to in the east of the vast country.
"We don & # 39; I do not know if we have identified all transmission chains, we expect to see more cases due to previous infections and these infections are developing into a disease," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told a newsletter in Geneva.
"At worst, we have these security blind spots where the epidemic might assume we do not know about it," he said.
Congo's Ministry of Health said confirmed and probable cases numbered 87 in total, including 47 deaths. Approximately 2,150 people have been identified as contacts of people infected with the disease, causing fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
Health workers "have a huge amount of work to follow up on these contacts, to continue the research and to actively search for cases, and to pave the way for the vaccination teams," the ministry said late in a statement .
The outbreak spreads over the lush agricultural land of eastern Congo. The epicenter is the city of Mangina in the province of North Kivu and it has already reached the neighboring province of Ituri.
Congo has seen 10 Ebola outbreaks since the virus was discovered on the Ebola River in 1976, killing some 900 people together
An epidemic between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa.
The UN child agency UNICEF said that an unusually high percentage of the people affected by this outbreak were children.
Two children have already died from the disease and centers in Beni and Mangina treated six children who were infected with the disease or suspected of being.
UNICEF said it had also identified 53 orphans who lost their parents to Ebola.
"The impact of the disease on children is not limited to those who are infected or suspected," Gianfranco Rotigliano, the UNICEF representative in Congo, said in a statement.
"Many children are confronted with the il lank or death of their parents and loved ones, while some children have lost large parts of their family and become isolated, and these children urgently need our support."
The WHO said that more than 500 people, including health professionals, have been vaccinated against the disease. It had used more than 100 experts in Mangina and Beni cities to have tracing, vaccination and safe funeral.
There were, however, "red zones" in the Mangina area where aid workers could not enter due to safety reasons, Jasarevic said. ]