(KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo) - The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's volatile east is now the second largest in recorded history, with 426 confirmed and probable cases thus far, resulting in 245 deaths since August 1, according to the country's health ministry.
Efforts to combat the spread of the virus centred around the restive eastern city of Beni in North Kivu, have been severely impeded by conflicts in the region.
At least 245 people have died from the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent weeks, the country's health ministry said Thursday, making it the second-deadliest outbreak of the disease in history.
Of the total cases, 379 have been confirmed, and 47 are probable wherein an additional 87 suspected are under investigation, said the health ministry.
The worstEbola outbreak in history came in 2014, when it killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.
This clinical trial is the first-ever multi-drug trial for an Ebola treatment.
'While our focus remains on bringing this outbreak to an end, the launch of the randomised control trial is an important step toward finally finding an Ebola treatment that will save lives, ' said World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Some field activities, including vaccination, were temporarily halted in Beni, the outbreak's epicenter, on November 17 following attacks by an armed rebel group.
Ebola is said to be more prominent in North Kivu and Ituri provinces where attacks by armed groups and community resistance to health officials have hampered the response, IRC said in a statement.
Security concerns are real, Ebola responders say.
He added: 'Since their arrival in the region, the response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment, and kidnapping.
"No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are now experiencing", the Congolese health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said in a November 9 statement.
The trial aims to determine which of the four leading Ebola treatments - referred to by the World Health Organization as mAb114, Regeneron, Remdesivir and ZMapp - proves most successful in combating a virus that can have a high fatality rate. "Is there potential for requiring worldwide response?"
Starting on Wednesday, health workers planned to go door-to-door for four days in the town of Beni, delivering mosquito nets and anti-malarial drugs to 450,000 people, said the WHO.
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