On average, Ebola – which causes fever, severe headache and in some cases haemorrhage – kills about half of the infected, but the rates of mortality in individual epidemics are different. The last occurrence has a mortality rate of about 60%.
The outbreak is the second-oldest and second-largest in history, topping only one in West Africa in 2014, when the disease killed more than 11,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.
The province of North Kivu, which includes the cities of Beni, Kalunguta and Mabalaco, remains the epicenter of the phenomenon, although cases have been reported in the nearby Ituri province, according to the World Health Organization. The two provinces are among the nation's most populous and the Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Not only North Kivu faces this deadly epidemic of Ebola, but also has long-term conflicts, with 50 armed groups that cause intermittent violence, according to the WHO. The United Nations Public Health Agency estimates that more than one million refugees and internally displaced people travel through and out of North Kivu and Ituri, and this movement is a potential risk factor for the spread of Ebola. Another complication: a large number of cases of malaria in the region.
The long-delayed presidential election, originally scheduled for 2016, also poses barriers to health workers. The vote, which was held on Sunday, was followed by a violent campaign season, marked by a conflict between militant groups and government forces.
"The responses of Benny and Butembo were seriously disrupted after the demonstrations of the population," he said in a statement. "The majority of the teams could not be deployed in both cities, but they managed to work remotely with local health professionals who maintained minimal field activity." Vaccination activities were also interrupted.
"We reached a critical point in Ebola's response. After intensifying outreach activities, we have seen signs of hope in many areas, including a recent drop in cases in Beni," Tedros writes. "These benefits can be lost if we suffer from a period of prolonged uncertainty, resulting in increased transmission. That would be a tragedy for the local population, which has already suffered too much."
In late November, the Ministry announced the onset of the first randomized trials for three Ebola-treated drugs. In addition, 54,153 people have been vaccinated since the beginning of August.
CNN Patrick Felix Avelly and Boukola Adebayo contributed to this report.