The number of those killed in an Ebola epidemic in eastern DR Congo grew to 443, health authorities said after new President Felix Thysekedi began his first full-day job Friday.
Rising mortality – with more than 40 over the past ten days – highlights the challenge of controlling the epidemic in the conflict-ridden east and is just one of the many complex issues facing Tishkeked.
Tshishekedi had sworn in on Thursday after long delayed and bitter choices, replacing Joseph Kabila after 18 stormy years in charge of the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa.
In his opening speech, the Tsichisekedi promised a new era of respect for human rights. It also faces strengthened poverty, corruption and the struggle between the militias that control parts of the East.
In a news bulletin on Thursday, the health ministry outlined the growth of the Ebola outbreak.
"Since the onset of the epidemic, the total number of cases has been 715, including 666 confirmed and 49 probable, with 443 deaths in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces," the ministry said.
DR Congo, former Zaire, has seen 10 outbreaks of highly contagious haemorrhagic disease since it was first identified in 1976 near the Ebola River in the northwestern part of the country.
The last outbreak was announced on Aug. 1 in the Beni area, a major market town in North Kivu, and quickly spread to the neighboring Ituri province.
According to the ministry, 248 people recovered from the Ebola virus while "236 suspected cases" were investigated – one of the previous news bulletin on January 15th.
The Benny area and parts of it are regularly attacked by local armed groups and foreign rebels, particularly the cowardly Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) from neighboring Uganda.
The presidential elections, held on December 30, were canceled at Benny, officially because of the eruption of ebola and regional insecurity.