November 28, 2019 / 11:14 AM / 14 days ago

Three dead in attacks against Ebola response centres in Congo

A healthcare worker holds washed parts of protective gear at a transit centre in Beni, North Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo, December 15, 2018. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Three health workers were killed and several injured in attacks against two Ebola response centres in eastern Congo early on Thursday, authorities and health services said.

Violence and unrest have severely hampered efforts to contain the second worst Ebola epidemic on record, which has killed 2,199 people since the outbreak was announced in August 2018.

A local militia known as Mai Mai has repeatedly attacked health facilities because they believe Ebola does not exist, and that the response is a plot to eliminate the local population.

The Mai Mai simultaneously attacked Ebola treatment centres in Mangina in North Kivu and Byakoto in Ituri, said Jean-Jacques Muyembe, head of the Ebola response for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It is a blow to the Ebola response because we were eradicating the disease. These attacks are challenging the efforts to date,” Muyembe said.

Police said the three dead were World Health Organization (WHO) workers.

New infections have been on the decline since August, with just 70 cases identified in all of October, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Monday.

Reporting by Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Gareth Jones

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