BENI, Congo  — Congo’s president wants to see a deadly Ebola virus outbreak contained in less than three months even though some health experts say it could take twice as long.

President Felix Tshisekedi spoke as he visited eastern Congo, where the outbreak has become the second-deadliest in history. Congo’s health ministry says more than 1,200 cases have been confirmed, including more than 800 deaths.


A health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after a shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, eastern Congo, in 2018. Associated Press/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro

Tshisekedi’s visit came a few days after the World Health Organization decided that the outbreak is not yet a global health emergency.

The outbreak is occurring in a volatile area near the border with Rwanda and Uganda where rebel groups and bouts of community resistance have complicated efforts to contain the hemorrhagic fever.

As of this week more than 100,000 people have received an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine, a bright spot amid the challenges.

Congo’s president vowed more protection for health workers and called on the local population to cooperate with them. This is the first time this region has faced an Ebola outbreak, and many in the population are wary of both outsiders and the government after years of deadly rebel attacks.

If the Ebola outbreak continues “people will be scared to visit the region,” Tshieskedi said. Since taking office early this year he has vowed to combat the region’s rebel groups.

One woman who was leaving an Ebola treatment center on Tuesday after recovering from the disease described her mixed feelings once she learned she had the virus.

“I thought I would die and I hid, but a few days later I came and got myself admitted,” 29-year-old Kavugho Rachel said. “And here I am, in good health.”

She appealed to others in the region to seek help at the centers, too.


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