More than 1000 dead in DR Congo Ebola epidemic

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Health Minister Oly Ilunga said that four deaths in the outbreak's epicentre of Katwa pushed the death toll to 1,008.

"We are dealing with a hard and volatile situation", Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters in Geneva.

Michael Ryan, MD, with World Health Organization reported that there have been 119 separate violent attacks in the region since January.

The WHO said it was anxious there could be continued "intense transmission" of the virus. "You want to use every tool in the box".

As of May 1, there have been 1 510 Ebola cases in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, with 994 deaths.

Ebola treatment centres and health workers have repeatedly been subject to violence, complicating efforts to contain the deadly virus.

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There was an attempted assault on an Ebola treatment facility in the city of Butembo on Thursday, but nobody was injured and the assailants were captured, the WHO's Ryan said.

"We need the security situation to be under control for [health workers] and for the local people", said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

Adding to the logistical hitches are a string of assaults on teams fighting the disease, and a Cameroonian epidemiologist working with World Health Organization was killed last month.

"We don't necessarily know which way this outbreak is going", he said. "Community trust and safety, as well as community engagement and ownership of the response is critical". Some wonder why money is poured into fighting Ebola when many more people die each year of malaria and other preventable diseases. It was named after the Ebola River when it was detected in DRC.

A ministry statement sent to dpa said 1,008 people have now died from the virus, while 1,529 cases have been recorded.

Despite significant medical advances since then, including the vaccine and experimental treatments, health officials have struggled to control the current outbreak because of the violence and community mistrust in eastern Congo, where dozens of militias are active.

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