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DRC Ebola Treatment Center Attacked Again, As Cases Rise Over 1,700, Experts Debate Benefits, Risks Of Declaring Outbreak An International Emergency

Associated Press: Ebola treatment center attacked again in eastern Congo
“Authorities say an Ebola treatment has come under attack again in eastern Congo. Butembo Mayor Sylvain Kanyamanda said Monday that one of the attackers was killed in the overnight assault in Katwa. Two patients also died after all the nursing staff fled the health facility. The mayor pleaded with residents to support the Ebola response teams…” (5/13).

CIDRAP News: Ebola cases top 1,700 in DRC as 4 health workers infected
“Once again, violent clashes in the Ebola outbreak region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have resulted in a spike of cases. Over the weekend and through [Monday], the DRC’s ministry of health recorded 56 new Ebola cases, including 4 in health care workers, and 19 new deaths. The new cases bring the outbreak total to 1,705, including 1,124 deaths. A total of 251 suspected cases are still under investigation. The total number of health workers infected during the outbreak is now 101…” (Soucheray, 5/13).

Reuters: Political games hinder efforts to end Ebola outbreak in Congo: WHO
“Attempts to end the second worst Ebola outbreak on record are being hampered by ‘political games’ and distrust of outsiders in two towns in Democratic Republic of Congo, a senior World Health Organization official said on Monday. … A rapid international response with an effective vaccine has managed to stop the spread in a string of towns, including Beni, Kyondo, Komanda, Tchomia, Mabalako, Mandima, and Kayna, WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan said. But in two towns, Butembo and Katwa, there has been persistent infection and reinfection, Ryan told an audience at Geneva’s Graduate Institute…” (Miles, 5/13).

STAT: Could an emergency declaration over Ebola make a bad situation worse?
“…Despite the gravity of the situation, the North Kivu outbreak hasn’t been declared a public health emergency of international concern — a PHEIC in global health parlance. That fact has frustrated some health security experts, who insist it’s long past time to proclaim an international emergency. Other experts argue, however, that labeling this outbreak a global health crisis would not help to halt spread of Ebola in the region. They worry that it could even make an already perilous situation worse…” (Branswell, 5/14).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak is available from Agence France-Presse, AFP/The Observers, and Becker’s Hospital Review.