WHO warns Ebola cases are growing rapidly in latest DRC outbreak

Earlier this summer, public health officials warned that new cases of Ebola had appeared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, indicating that another outbreak was underway. Only around five weeks later, the number of cases nearly doubled to 100, marking the 11th outbreak in the DRC. Whereas the new outbreak was originally declared in the Equateur Province's capital city, it has since spread into 11 of 17 zones, claiming 43 lives.READ: New DRC Ebola outbreak appears alongside COVID-19, measles

Details on the outbreak come from the World Health Organization, which reports that since the announcement made on June 1, a total of 96 Ebola cases have been confirmed and another four are considered 'probable.' Of those confirmed cases, 43 people have died.

The outbreak is currently spread over nearly 200 miles, much of it rural, presenting what the WHO describes as big logistical hurdles in curbing the spread of the deadly hemorrhagic fever. Due to the distance between many communities, as well as the dense forest that separates them, public health officials may have to travel for several days to reach newly infected people, including, at times, by boat.

Such long travel times across rough terrain will put supplies at risk and delay treatment for infected communities. Though officials previously managed to stop an outbreak in this same region a couple of years ago, the current outbreak has already surpassed the one from 2018, and in only around three months.

WHO's Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti explained:

With 100 Ebola cases in less than 100 days, the outbreak in Equateur Province is evolving in a concerning way. The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions and with COVID-19 draining resources and attention, it is hard to scale-up operations.

The outbreak comes amid the coronavirus pandemic and is, according to WHO, underfunded at this point in time. Ebola is not a disease that can be ignored and thousands of people are at risk if it is not curbed rapidly.