Ebola death toll in DR Congo passes 200, Health Ministry says.

The Ebola Virus has killed 201 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since an outbreak started in Augst, two months ago in the country’s east,  a health official said.

There have been 291 confirmed cases of the virus, half of which were in the North Kivu region’s Beni, a city of some 800,000 people, the health ministry said.

Health Minister Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga said Friday that of the 198 deaths, 163 are confirmed Ebola cases with the other 35 being probable deaths.

Over 28,000 people in the central African nation have received a vaccine to prevent Ebola.

Earlier this month, the health ministry said it will install health checkpoints at the entrances to all polling stations in Congo’s Ebola-affected region during the December presidential election when millions of Congolese are expected to come out to vote.

No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing,” Kalenga said. “Since their arrival in the region, the response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment, and kidnapping. Two of our colleagues in the Rapid Response Medical Unit even lost their lives in an attack”, the AP reports.

Another problem facing the medical teams aside from possibly contracting the disease themselves are weekly attacks that often suspend containment efforts.

The health ministry has said teams responding to the Ebola outbreak are attacked three or four times a week on average, a level of violence unseen in the country’s nine previous outbreaks of the virus.

Just last month, two health agents were killed by rebels in an attack and 15 more civilians were killed the following day.

The Ebola outbreak in the place rife with rebels attacks.

The outbreak is concentrated in a region where numerous militia groups are fighting over Congo’s rich natural resources.

Besides militia attacks that have hindered health workers, the region’s high population density and movements across the borders to Uganda and Rwanda pose additional risks the highly lethal disease could spread in the region.

The outbreak began shortly after the Congo’s government declared an end to another outbreak in the west of the country in June and lauded those involved for managing to swiftly contain the spread of the disease.

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