Friday , July 30 2021

Congo flees to Uganda after voting, raising fears of Ebola

Hundreds of refugees have moved to Uganda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo on days after the country's troubled presidential elections, a Red Cross official said Wednesday, raising concerns about a possible Ebola-wide spread across the border. Separately, the head of the World Health Organization said it had asked an experimental vaccine supplier to produce more than that.

The influx of refugees began one day after Sunday's vote, and dozens of people arrive at the same time since then, Irina Nakasita, spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Uganda, said.

Some Congolese aspiring to cross the border were forced to return back after resisting efforts by Ugandan health workers to examine people for Ebola, she said.

The DRC government cited an Ebola epidemic in the northeast of the country for a controversial decision to prevent about 1 million voters from the election. Then protests followed, with some people vandalizing Ebola response capabilities and some relief groups forced to suspend work for days.

The internet was cut off in the DRC this week, in an apparent effort by the government to curb social media speculation about the results, while the opposition and observers reported more problems with the election.

An Internet breakdown also affects Ebola response efforts with the DRC's health ministry on Wednesday, citing "technical problems" for delays in sending a daily update on the outbreak.

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More than 600 cases of Ebola have been reported, with more than 360 confirmed deaths since August. The outbreak is the second most deadly in history.

The outbreak was difficult to control due to armed violence and community protests, and violence increased "intensity and frequency," the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

However, "there is reason to hope," the phenomenon will be put under control as soon as possible, said Tedros Adhan Gebries in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. He passed the New Year's Day in the DRC.

Due to protests related to the elections last week, Tedros warned that "continued uncertainty" in the DRC could lead to an increase in new cases of Ebola.

Some of the cases of Ebola during this phenomenon were reported near the border with Uganda, which was moving very much. For months, Uganda's officials have been subjected to all going through official border crossings for compulsory screening of Ebola.

Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with the fluids of an infected person.

More than 50,000 people received an experimental vaccine. Tedros said there are enough doses of the vaccine, "but at the same time we have already asked the supplier to produce more."

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