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Congo Ebola epidemic exceeds 1,000 cases, according to Health Ministry

The death toll, 629, is the world's second-worst Ebola outbreak ever.
Image: Health workers are seen inside the \"red zone\" of an Ebola treatment center in Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 9, 2019.
Health workers are seen inside the "red zone" of an Ebola treatment center in Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 9, 2019.John Wessels / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Congo's Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, the Health Ministry said on Monday, with a death toll of 629 in the world's second-worst outbreak ever.

Health workers have been better prepared for this latest epidemic of the hemorrhagic fever, which causes severe vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding, and kills more than half those it infects. New technologies like a trial vaccine, experimental treatments and futuristic cube-shaped mobile units for treating patients have helped curb the spread of the virus.

But public mistrust and rampant insecurity in the parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where Ebola has struck have hampered the response, complicating the fight against it.

Five Ebola centers have been attacked since last month, sometimes by armed assailants. The violence led French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres to suspend its activities at the epicenter of the outbreak last month.

As a result, it is now the second deadliest in history, behind the 2013-16 one in West Africa that is believed to have killed more than 11,000 people.

"The total is now 1,009 cases," the ministry said in a statement, but it added: "The response, led by the Health Ministry in collaboration with its partners, has limited the geographical spread."

Last Wednesday, authorities confirmed a case of Ebola in Bunia, another city of close to 1 million people.