A terrifying Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo is out of control and could result in thousands of new infections.
Over a thousand people have died in the new outbreak which has spread through the north-eastern parts of the war-torn nation since mid 2018.
Health experts have warned the outbreak is so bad that it could rival the one that devastated three different African countries between 2013 and 2016.
Aid agencies and other international response teams have struggled to contain the spread of disease due to regular fighting between armed militias which has plagued the country for decades.
At least 298 cases of the disease have been encountered in the past month alone and the fatality rate of the disease is at 67% percent, higher than any other previous outbreaks.
Around 99 health workers were also infected of which 34 have died.
“Whether it gets to the absolute scale of west Africa or not, none of us know, but this is massive in comparison with any other outbreak in the history of Ebola and it is still expanding,” Jeremy Farrar of the Wellcome Trust told the Gaurdian.
“It’s remarkable it hasn’t spread more geographically but the numbers are frightening and the fact that they are going up is terrifying.”
David Miliband, from the International Rescue Committee, says the situation is out of control, despite the availability of a proven vaccine.
“The situation is far more dangerous than the statistic of 1,000 deaths, itself the second largest in history, suggests and the suspension of key services threatens to create a lethal inflection point in the trajectory of the disease,” he said.
DR Congo’s North Kivu province is at the centre of the crisis but attempts to vaccinate locals have been hampered by the presence of armed groups.
An Ebola treatment centres resulted in the death of one assailant when it was attacked by Mai-Mai rebels last week.
WHO director general Dr Matshidiso Moeti said: “Cases are increasing because of violent acts that set us back each time.”
Last month a WHO epidemiologist, Dr Richard Mouzoko, was killed by armed men during an attack on the Butembo University Hospital.