Congo: Food aid reaches area of Ebola outbreak

NAIROBI, 27 February (IRIN) - A consignment of much-needed food aid sent by the government reached the districts of Kelle and Mbomo in Cuvette-Ouest Region of the Republic of Congo (ROC) on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation reported from the capital, Brazzaville.

The cargo included 70 25-kg sacks of rice, 15 cartons of canned sardines, 25 cartons of salted fish, 10 25-litre containers of cooking oil, 30 sacks of salt, 10 cartons of laundry soap, and 50 cartons of matches.

The goods will be shared among displaced populations of six villages - Yembelangoye, Nzoukou, Ongonda, Ambomi, Abolo and Entsiami; hospital patients, including national Red Cross workers; and government administration agents who have remained in Kelle

WHO reported that as at Wednesday, a total of 91 "probable" cases of Ebola had been identified, and three additional "suspected" cases had been reported, resulting in 79 deaths.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, members of parliament had met Minister Philippe Mvouo in support of government efforts to help contain a climate of panic that had overcome the region, the ROC news agency Depeches de Brazzaville reported.

Calling itself the Association pour le developpement du district de Kelle, the group denounced the killing of four teachers by the local population, who suspected them of having spread the Ebola virus through witchcraft.

"The first major decision we have taken is to organise a collection of funds to assist those suffering from illness and hunger. With the money collected, we will establish a committee that will purchase needed goods to be distributed by humanitarian organisations," an association representative, Dieudonne Ossie, was quoted as saying.

"I hope that very soon our brothers of the Cuvette-Ouest Region living here in Brazzaville will relay the information being provided by scientific teams to their families up-country that this is not a matter of sorcery, but rather, a virus," he added.

WHO also noted that public awareness-raising efforts regarding the Ebola virus were under way throughout the Cuvette-Ouest Region in an effort to gain the confidence of terrified residents.

WHO added that experts in clinical management and a logistician have joined the international team from the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, the Congolese Ministry of Health and WHO. Isolation wards have been set up in Kelle and Mbomo Hospitals, and are receiving patients.


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