United Nations warns of Ebola 'perfect storm' in DR Congo

Tchomia landing site

Dr. Peter Salama said the response to the deadly hemorrhagic fever is at a "critical juncture" in eastern North Kivu province, where the outbreak was declared almost two months ago.

He told reporters Tuesday that overall trends in the Ebola response have been positive, including fewer reported cases on a weekly basis.

Some 21 people, including 17 civilians, were killed in an attack by rebel forces in the city of Beni, where World Health Organization has based its operations, leading to the declaration of a "Ville Morte", or period of mourning, lasting until Friday.

"We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a potential flawless storm", the WHO's head of emergency response, Peter Salama, told a news conference in Geneva.

Salama said it was unclear when operations might resume but that an official mourning period is expected to last until Friday. Oicha has two confirmed cases of the virus and one probable case.

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More than 11,000 people have been vaccinated in this outbreak.

"Active conflict limiting our ability to access civilians, distrust by segments of the community already traumatized by decades of conflict and of murder, driven by a fear of a terrifying disease, but also exploited and manipulated by local politicians prior to an election", have combined to worsen problems, he added. Some potentially infected people have fled treatment.

Neighboring Uganda was now facing an "imminent threat", and social media posts were conflating Ebola with criticism of the DRC government and the United Nations and "a range of conspiracy theories", which could put healthworkers at risk.

The bloodshed occurred on Saturday in Beni, a flashpoint city in North Kivu region.

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