Democratic Republic of Congo
– August 1 2019
One year on, Ebola continues to spread
Today, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo hits the one-year anniversary of its start, but a surge of cases over the weekend gives little hope the outbreak is close to being contained.
SOS Children’s Villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda are working to stem the spread of the disease through community workshops and prevention campaigns. The Villages also take their own precautions, limiting the movement of staff and children to prevent infections.
“We’re closely monitoring the situation with the government as well as health and relief agencies and have started implementing preventive measures at our programmes in Bukavu and Uvira to protect the 233 children in our care and the 565 families we support through our family strengthening programme,” says Aboubacar Moutari, SOS Children’s Villages DRC National Director.
“We’re multiplying the number of handwashing facilities we have on the different sites and have been stepping up our community outreach efforts,” he adds.
Since the end of last week, the DRC has recorded 41 more cases of the deadly virus, including a second Ebola case in Goma – 190 km away from Bukavu - involving a 46-year-old man who had travelled from a community near Bunia in Ituri province.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which first declared the outbreak on 1 August 2018, says the total number of confirmed cases stands at nearly 2,700, with close to 1,800 deaths. Last month, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in DRC a “public health emergency of international concern”.
Uganda declared Ebola-free
WHO declared Uganda Ebola-free in late July as no new cases have been reported following the death of two children and a grandmother.
SOS Children’s Villages Uganda has worked to educate the public about the virus, especially families whose children attend SOS schools and visit SOS-run medical centers.
SOS Children’s Villages Uganda National Director, Olive Lumonya, says children and staff in Fort Portal, closest to where the outbreak started, are safe: “We’re still encouraging the need to follow guidelines, which include avoiding crowded places and washing hands, among others.”
She adds that generally, members of the public are conscious and more relaxed: “Immediately after the first announcement, people were cautious about body contact. However, as weeks went by without any further cases, the atmosphere relaxed with people moving, greeting and hugging each other freely.”