The public health workers behind the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are struggling to combat an outbreak of the deadly virus in what is effectively a war zone.
In the past, Ebola outbreaks have been confined to isolated, rural areas, where they could be contained until they burned out. Now, the disease outbreak is in the second-most densely populated area of DRC.
With over 10 major episodes of violence since the DRC outbreak was declared in August, insecurity and community mistrust has made it difficult to gauge the true extent of Ebola’s spread.
High-level talks are under way between global health officials in the DRC to see what more can be done to shore up the security situation in the outbreak zone and what other resources the country needs to battle the virus.
When someone in the community dies of Ebola at home, the Red Cross has been sending teams to collect the body and conduct a safe burial.
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has reached a dangerous phase, with the response operation acknowledging it hasn’t got a full picture of where the virus is spreading in a large urban center.
The number of cases of Ebola has accelerated in the past two weeks. Half have been in and around Beni, where the response was disrupted last month by a period of official mourning following attacks by armed groups.
Right now the DRC is experiencing a world-first: an Ebola outbreak in a war zone. While disease hunters have learned a lot from previous tragedies, like the 2013 outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa, this is the one scenario no one’s been able to prepare for.
The Ebola response teams in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are having increasing trouble keeping track of where the virus is spreading, a problem that threatens containment efforts and undermines the effectiveness of the vaccination program there.
Health teams responding to Congo's latest 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 deadly virus.