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Ebola kills more than 200 in Democratic Republic of Congo while violence kills health workers

A health worker puts on his personal protective equipment on Nov. 6, 2018, before entering the red zone of an Ebola Treatment Centre, where he will check up on patients in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Medical workers have been threatened and even killed while trying to assist patients with the deadly disease. (JOHN WESSELS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been battling an Ebola outbreak for months, which has taken the lives of 214 people and infected another 366.

Efforts to stop the disease have been hindered by violent attacks on health care workers, who have been threatened and even killed trying to access some of the hardest-hit areas.

What are the details?

The outbreak — which started on Aug. 1 — is the 10th and worst the country has seen since Ebola was discovered 42 years ago. KSAT-TV reported that those who have died from the disease include pregnant and breastfeeding women, newborns and infants.

More than 30 health care workers have been infected, but the only deaths of medical aides have reportedly been caused by violence. Armed militants have kidnapped and murdered people responding to the outbreak.

The city of Beni is the epicenter of the outbreak, but it's also been the target of heavy attacks from a Muslim rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces. The ADF is battling the Congolese military.

Congo's health minister Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga told The Daily Mail, "Since their arrival in the [Beni] region, the response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment, and kidnapping."

"Two of our colleagues in the Rapid Response Medical Unit even lost their lives in an attack," Dr. Kalenga continued.

On Saturday, vaccinations were suspended, and the Ebola Emergency Operations Center was closed following an armed attack on U.N. peacekeepers the day before. Medical workers resumed all activities on Sunday, according to a statement from the World Health Organization.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted as saying, "WHO will continue to work side-by-side with the ministry and our partners to bring this Ebola outbreak to an end.

"We honor the memory of those who have died battling this outbreak, and deplore the continuing threats on the security of those still working to end it," he added.

Early last week, seven peacekeepers were killed and another 10 were wounded in an attack on the rebel forces. The ADF has killed hundreds of people since 2014, according to AFP.

Anything else?

With Congo sharing borders with nine nations, U.N. officials fear the epidemic could spread to other countries. KSAT reported that South Sudan is particularly vulnerable, because Congolese refugees are pouring into the country.

One last thing…
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