The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said Ebola seems to be under control in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo but it has spread in other parts of the country, where health workers are combating insecurity and disinformation on social media, reported Reuters.
Dr. Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies department, said the latest case is that of a woman in her 70s with no known history of travel or visitors. He said it is likely that the woman, who lives in the remote village of Pinga in the northeast of DRC, may have caught the deadly haemorrhagic fever by eating bushmeat or from another animal source.
“Over the last couple of weeks we have seen worrying extensions of the disease…we have had a cluster of cases in Mwenga, to the south of Bukavu, we have a case in Pinga – which is very difficult and inaccessible area to the northeast of Goma,” Ryan told a news conference.
According to the latest figures obtained, nearly 3,000 Ebola cases have been confirmed, including 1,965 deaths, since the outbreak began a year ago, the second-biggest toll in the disease’s history. Since mid-June, the WHO has reported an average of 80 new Ebola cases every week. It said, though, that these numbers have been falling in recent weeks.
Ryan said although the U.N. health agency has the vaccines and drugs that could potentially change the course of the outbreak, delivering those to the people who need them is still proving problematic. He added that community mistrust is hindering efforts to stop the epidemic. He said negative social media campaigns that have spread false information were creating difficulties in gaining community confidence.
For instance, messages saying the Ebola vaccine is used to infect people, not protect them, and treatments are used to finish victims off are leading to mistrust in the people of DRC.
Ryan said the only way to counter bad information is not by blocking it, but by putting out good information.