Growing unrest in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was disrupting efforts to rein in an Ebola outbreak, threatening gains made in fighting the deadly virus.
The incident followed the announcement that elections planned for Sunday in the region had once again been postponed because of local unrest, as well as the Ebola outbreak.
The World Health Organization chief warned Friday that, the security situation in the Ebola-hit Beni and Butembo areas has deteriorated since Thursday morning as protests erupted against further delays to DRC’s election. This has complicated efforts to provide vaccinations and track down people who may have been infected, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
“some alerts of potential cases were investigated and confirmed cases were referred to treatment centres but teams were unable to trace contacts or to conduct vaccinations.”
But “yesterday our teams in Beni were unable to carry out critical field work, including vaccinations, contact tracing, and following up on alerts of potential new cases,” he said.
He pointed out that after an intensification of field activities, “we were seeing hopeful signs in many areas, including a recent decrease in cases in Beni.” But he warned that “these gains could be lost if we suffer a period of prolonged insecurity, resulting in increased transmission.”
“That would be a tragedy for the local population, who have already suffered too much,” Tedros said.
“return to full operations as soon as possible while remaining committed to ensuring the safety of all staff deployed. He said the WHO teams in Beni and Butembo were doing “everything possible”.