Congo: Ebola deaths reach 111

BRAZZAVILLE, 19 March (IRIN) - The death toll in the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Cuvette-Ouest Region of northern Congo has continued to rise. Of the 123 people known to have been infected with the haemorrhagic fever, 111 had died, Joseph M'boussa, who is heading the fight against the virus, told IRIN.
Since the outbreak was confirmed early in 2003, Cuvette-Ouest, which borders Gabon, has been in quarantine as a means of stopping the virus from spreading to other regions. The authorities were first alerted to the possibility of Ebola late in 2002 when a band of gorillas in the forest began to die. The human victims are believed to have eaten the infected primates.

One specialist medical team has been sent to Sembe and Souanke, two localities in the Sangha Region with access to Mbomo District, to brief people on the virus. Another team has gone to Makoua and Boundji, both in Cuvette, and yet another to Lekana and Djambala in the Plateaux Region.

The capital, Brazzaville, has two sites prepared, one at the military hospital and the other at the University Hospital Centre, staffed by personnel trained by the Swiss. An inter-ministerial committee is examining ways of delivering goods and provisions to certain villages rendered inaccessible in the disaster region.

A meeting of potential donors which was due to have taken place in Washington on 18 and 19 March following the setting-up of a multisectoral programme for the research and prevention of Ebola, has been postponed.


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