Continued violence in the Congo could cause an existing Ebola epidemic to spread, making the situation even more dangerous.
Allied Democratic Forces rebels killed 15 civilians and abducted a dozen children in a recent attack on Beni, but many more lives may be at risk, as the exchanged fire also suspended crucial Ebola virus-containment efforts, reports the AP.
“It will be very hard to stop the outbreak if this violence continues,” World Health Organization’s emergencies chief Peter Salama told the AP.
Vehicles belonging to aid organizations and the UN mission were pelted with stones, according to UN-backed Radio Okapi. The weekend’s events follow another deadly attack last month in Beni that halted Ebola-containment efforts for days, “complicating work to track suspected contacts of infected people,” according to the report.
In the weeks since, a number of new confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in the city, and the rate of new cases overall has more than doubled, alarming aid groups, noted the AP.
The attack also marked the first time health workers were killed during this outbreak, according to the report, further stalling containment efforts. But many on the ground remain dedicated to the mission at hand.
“Our agents will continue to go into the field each day to fulfill the mission entrusted to them,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga said. “They are true heroes, and we will continue to take all necessary measures so that they can do their job safely.”
Confirmed Ebola cases have reached 202 in this outbreak, including 118 deaths, according to Time.