Geneva – The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday said that it will open a new Ebola-response front in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).
WHO said that it would provide support to thousands of people, including children, following the recent confirmation of new Ebola cases there.
In a latest development, the DR Congo authority said that five more Ebola cases were confirmed, including two from the urban commercial hub of Butembo in North Kivu province, one of which involved a health worker from a clinic where the city’s first case had been treated.
Butembo is North Kivu province’s second-largest city, with a population of nearly 1 million, and has so far four confirmed cases.
Earlier cases include a patient who fled from the Beni outbreak hotspot and a man who fled from Ituri province and whose illness was diagnosed retroactively in Butembo based on a semen sample.
“So there is a real risk the virus could spread quickly in such a large population centre.
“The number of confirmed Ebola cases in Butembo remains limited, but we have to ensure that everything is being done now to ensure that the outbreak is controlled at this early stage,’’ said Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF representative in the country.
UNICEF said its expanding Ebola response and deploying to Butembo a team of 11 specialists in community communication, education, psycho-social assistance, and water, sanitation and hygiene, to help contain the disease and avoid any further spread of the epidemic.
So far UNICEF, together with partners, has already trained 35 psycho-social workers to assist families and children affected by the disease, broadcast programmes on nine community radios and sensitised 36 journalists on prevention measures.
The UN agency has even sent anthropologists to ensure the response in the DR Congo is sensitive to cultural believes and practices, particularly around caring for sick and diseased individuals, and addressing populations’ concerns about secure and dignified burials.
According to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation, as of Wednesday, the total reported Ebola cases in the DR Congo had reached 137, including 106 confirmed and 31 probable cases.
The death toll had risen to 92, including 61 confirmed and 31 probable cases.