Kinshasa: The death toll in Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo rose to a whopping 500, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday.
Al Jazeera cited a reportage released by the health ministry late on Friday, as saying, “In total, there have been 502 deaths and 271 people cured.”
However, the regular vaccination programmes have prevented thousands of more deaths from taking place in the region.
Health minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga noted that for the first time, a vaccination programme had protected approximately 76,425 people and prevented “thousands” of deaths.
“I believe we have prevented the spread of the epidemic in the big cities” in the region, he said.
“The teams also managed to contain its the spread of the epidemic to neighbouring countries.”
“The biggest problem is the high mobility of the population,” the minister added.
This is the world’s second deadliest Ebola outbreak since the virus killed 11,000 people in West Africa in 2014.
The outbreak initiated from the North Kivu region, on the borders of Uganda and Rwanda.
The Spanish wing of the aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) took to Twitter on Saturday stating that the Ebola cases have reportedly risen since January 15. East African countries, including Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan in the north are now on alert, the aid agency added.
Ebola, one of the world’s deadliest diseases, first appeared in Sudan, followed by DR Congo in 1976. The virus can be transmitted to humans from wild animals. Symptoms of the disease include fever, severe headache and haemorrhaging.
In 2014, Ebola caused global concerns when an outbreak broke out in the Western African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, claiming the lives of over 11,000 people and infecting approximately 28,600 others.