YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Equateur province appears to have slowed down, with no new confirmed cases detected since Sept. 18, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

In its weekly emergency bulletin, WHO Africa said challenges remain around inadequate funding and personnel for the response, particularly in hotspot areas, and problems with screening at points of control in the Central African country.

“However, while there are still confirmed cases at large in the community and difficulties with safe and dignified burials, transmission risks remain,” it said.

“There is a need to sustain a strong and robust surveillance system in order to detect, isolate, test and treat new suspected cases as early as possible.” 

The 11th Ebola outbreak in DRC started in the Equateur region in early June, and has since spread to 12 of its 17 health zones, with more than 120 cases and 50 deaths reported so far.

In May, the WHO and the DRC government had declared the end of the country’s 10th Ebola outbreak.

Sexual abuse by aid workers

Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers, who identified themselves as working for the WHO Ebola response in DRC are deeply horrific and heartbreaking, WHO Africa’s regional director said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Matshidiso Moeti’s statement came after reports of more than 50 women accusing workers from the WHO and other aid agencies of sexual exploitation and abuse in the DRC.

According to the reports, a majority of the women said numerous men had either propositioned them, forced them to have sex in exchange for a job, or terminated their contracts when they refused.

“I strongly support WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ decision to initiate a thorough review of the allegations,” Moeti said.

“I will do everything I can to contribute and ensure that a full, fair and transparent investigation takes place within the shortest possible time and that any perpetrators of these revolting acts face serious consequences.”

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