KINSHASA – Almost one hundred children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have lost their lives to the Ebola virus since the outbreak started in August last year.
Save the Children warned the death toll could rise as the number of new cases spiked in January, from around 20 a week to more than 40.
Of the 97 children who lost their lives, 65 were younger than five years old.
“We are at a crossroads. If we don’t take urgent steps to contain this, the outbreak might last another six months, if not the whole year,” Heather Kerr, Save the Children’s Country Director in the DRC said:
“It is paramount to convince communities that Ebola is an urgent and real concern. People have disturbed funerals as they didn’t believe the deceased had succumbed to the virus. Aid workers were threatened as it was believed they spread Ebola.
“We have to scale up our efforts to reach out to the vocal youth and community leaders to build trust and to help us turn this tide. Treating the people who are sick is essential, but stopping Ebola from spreading further is just as important.”
The DRC is battling the second largest Ebola-outbreak in history. Over the last six months, at least 785 people were believed to be infected with the virus (731 confirmed cases), of which 484 people died – 60 percent of them women. In the last three weeks of January alone, there were some 120 new cases.