New measures taken to combat an Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have had a "positive impact", but the virus remains unsafe and unpredictable, the World Health Organization and United Nations said Thursday.
The outbreak in 1976 of what was then an unknown disease in a remote part of DR Congo sparked terror, but was brought under control by experts quickly identifying the virus' nature and using quarantines.
In a joint mission to the epicenter of the outbreak, around the city of Beni close to the Ugandan border, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), and U.N. [Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations] Jean-Pierre Lacroix spent Wednesday seeing conditions on the ground for themselves, along with Minister of Health Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
"No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are now experiencing", said Kalenga.
The hemorrhagic fever is believed to have killed 198 people in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, where attacks by armed groups and community resistance to health officials have complicated the response.
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"Two of our colleagues in the Rapid Response Medical Unit have even lost their lives in an attack", he said.
"This epidemic remains risky and unpredictable, and we must not let our guard down", Kalenga said in a statement.
The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations vowed last week to do more with Congo's government to help improve security in the country's east.
This is the first time an Ebola outbreak has occurred in Congo's far northeast.
In Uganda, officials have stepped up measures to prevent an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Ebola is spread via small amounts of bodily fluid and infection often proves fatal.Early symptoms are flu-like, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and internal and external bleeding.