DRC Ebola death toll exceeds 1 600 mark

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Deaths from an 11-month-old epidemic of Ebola in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have crossed the 1 600 mark and a new fatality has been reported near the border with Uganda, the health ministry said on Friday.

As of Thursday, the health authorities had recorded 2 382 cases of Ebola, of which 1 606 had been fatal, it said.

A ministry spokesperson told AFP that a patient whose infection had been reported on Monday in Ariwara, in Ituri province bordering Uganda, had died.

The fatality is a mother from neighbouring North Kivu province whose five children had become infected with Ebola, two of whom had died.

She had gone to Ituri in order to evade Ebola response teams, the ministry said.

Ariwari lies in northern Ituri, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Uganda and some 60 kilometres from South Sudan.

“So far, 177 people who have been in contact with the family have been identified in Ariwara and 40 have already been vaccinated,” the ministry said.

The disease broke out in North Kivu before spreading to Ituri.

Two people also died in Uganda in June after a family returned from eastern Congo where they had buried an Ebola-stricken relative.

The current epidemic is the worst on record after more than 11,300 were killed Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone in an outbreak between 2014-2016.

Ebola spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person, or objects contaminated by such fluids.

Separately on Friday, the UN said the Ebola risk in Ituri was being heightened by violence that has caused people to flee their homes, forcing them to gather in places with poor hygiene that were vulnerable to disease spread.

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