The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo could deteriorate rapidly because of attacks by armed groups, community resistance and the geographic spread of the disease.
“We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a perfect storm,” WHO’s head of emergency response Peter Salama told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
Ebola has claimed 100 lives since the deadly virus outbreak started nearly two months ago in North Kivu, a north-eastern border region where more than 100 armed groups operate.
After 21 people died in an attack by the Allied Democratic Forces rebels in the city of Beni on Saturday, community groups called for days of mourning and protests that are expected to last at least until Friday.
In addition to the security risk, Salama said a minority of the local population is deeply mistrustful of government and UN health workers. Some potentially infected people have fled treatment.
Politicians in the region are also stoking the mistrust ahead of upcoming elections in December, Salama added.
As a result, the outbreak has spread over a wider region including an area bordering Uganda. The possibility of a cross-border-spread of Ebola has increased and Uganda “is facing an imminent threat,” Salama added.