All activities at an Ebola Treatment Center in Katwa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have been suspended following a violent attack last weekend in which the facility was partially burned down, said the international medical humanitarian organization (and NCF grantee) Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Tuesday.
At 10 pm on February 24, unidentified assailants began throwing stones at the MSF-managed Ebola Treatment Center in Katwa, in DRC’s North Kivu province. They then set parts of the structure on fire, destroying medical wards and equipment. The brother of a patient died while reportedly trying to escape the scene, though the exact circumstances of his death are still unclear. All personnel were evacuated from the center. Six patients classified as suspect and four as confirmed cases were transferred to other facilities.
“This attack was traumatic for patients, their relatives, and staff present inside the center at the time,” said Emmanuel Massart, MSF’s emergency coordinator in Katwa. “This attack has crippled our ability to respond to what is now the epicenter of the outbreak.”
More than six months after the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri, the epidemic is not under control with more than 870 confirmed patients and more than 540 deaths. After some successes in stopping transmission in the initial epicenters of Mangina and Beni – and some ancillary locations such as Tchomia, Mutwanga, and Masereka – the epidemic has spread from four to 19 health zones.