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Why Ebola Is Still Spreading in Congo

A mother of a child, suspected of dying from Ebola, cries near her child's coffin in Beni, North Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo, December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Why Ebola Is Still Spreading in Congo
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The Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is moving toward Goma, a city of 1 million people.

The United Nations says nearly 2,000 people are being prepared to deal with patients there. If Ebola virus disease reaches Goma, stopping it will become even more difficult.

The campaign against Ebola is already affected by other issues. People travel often and come in contact with strangers. Another concern is security. In eastern Congo, health workers face threats of attack from rebel groups.

Health workers also need to deal with the fears of local people. One woman spoke to the medical group Doctors Without Borders about her experience. Aline Kahindo Mukandala said she thought Ebola patients who went to medical centers were immediately put into body bags.

Another survivor told people that foreign health workers will not steal patients’ organs. The man is currently helping the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Still, some people remain afraid of treatment or prevention measures and try to flee the area. Millions of people have been tested for Ebola at border crossings with Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo’s health ministry has reported at least 700 confirmed Ebola cases, including more than 160 children. Over 400 people have already died from the disease.

And, new cases are still appearing without any known connection to a confirmed patient. This shows the difficulty of hunting down the virus in a crowded and worried population.

At the same time, the World Health Organization says some public health measures have been helping limit the virus in a few areas. These measures include training health workers and working closely with people who live in the area.

This Ebola outbreak has brought some medical advances. Health workers are trying experimental treatments for people who have the virus. They are also using a new Ebola vaccine to prevent people from getting the virus. But how well the vaccine works is not yet known. Some people who have received it have still become sick.

Some health experts warn that, even if medicine improves, Ebola could remain a threat in central Africa. It is easily spread through body fluids and can infect people helping with childbirth, giving malaria treatments or just living their usual lives.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

The Associated Press reported this story. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

outbreak - n. a sudden rise in the incidence of a disease​

body bag - n. a large bag that a dead person's body is put in to be carried or moved to another place​

advance - n.progress in development​