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UN Health Agency Notes Progress in Fight against Ebola Virus in Africa

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The World Health Organization is reporting progress in efforts against a deadly virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

WHO officials reported Sunday on the fight against the Ebola virus in two of the country's eastern provinces: North Kivu and Ituri. Officials have blamed Ebola for the deaths of 2,251 people out of 3,429 cases of the disease. That is a fatality rate of 66 percent.

The Ebola epidemic has received less attention in the news media than the novel coronavirus, which has spread from China to other countries. However, health officials continue to work to slow the spread of Ebola.

Matshidiso Moeti is supervising WHO's operations in Africa. She says the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not the same as it was several months ago.

Moeti told VOA that she is seeing more hope than before. "…The number of cases per day is very much reduced than they were a few weeks ago, soon after we had some violent attacks and had to stop…," she said.

Moeti confirmed that armed groups attacked centers providing treatment for the Ebola virus early in the outbreak. Some organizations had to withdraw from North Kivu province over safety concerns, she added.

More than 100 armed groups are reported to be active in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, the areas most affected by the outbreak. The United Nations noted more than 300 attacks on Ebola health care workers last year. Six people were killed and about 70 others injured. Some of those harmed were patients.

File - The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Africa region, Matshidiso Moeti looks on during a visit to Zuma Town on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia, Liberia, April 22, 2015.
File - The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Africa region, Matshidiso Moeti looks on during a visit to Zuma Town on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia, Liberia, April 22, 2015.

Moeti admits that violence in the area and local resistance toward international efforts to contain the spread of the virus continue to cause problems. However, she said, the situation has greatly improved. People understand the seriousness of the problem and cooperate more. New infections are being identified and treated earlier.

The WHO is now working more with local people, Moeti said. She added that new methods in dealing with the virus appear to be working.

"What is very important really is the security aspect," she said.

The most recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo started in August of 2018. It is the tenth epidemic to hit the country since 1976. This outbreak is the second largest Ebola epidemic ever recorded.

An outbreak that started in West Africa in 2014 was blamed for more than 11,000 deaths. Ebola sickened 30,000 people before the outbreak ended in 2016.

I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

Lisa Shlein reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

fatality – n. a result in death

epidemic – n. a situation in which a disease spreads quickly among a large number of people

per – preposition for each

outbreak - n. a sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease; a sudden or violent increase in activity

aspect – n. a part of a larger issue

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