Patients being monitored as possible Ebola patients fled a camp in eastern DR Congo on Thursday after it was attacked by demonstrators protesting further delays to the country’s election, the health ministry said.
Around 20 patients fled the centre during the incident, at a holding centre in the Beni region, the epicentre of this latest outbreak of the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease.
The incident followed the announcement that elections planned for Sunday in the region had once again been postponed because of local unrest, as well as the Ebola outbreak.
At least three tents were ransacked on the edge of the site, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and a heavy police presence was patrolling the site after the incident, an AFP correspondent noted.
“Of 24 patients, 17 had tested negative (for Ebola) once. They had to be tested a second time before being discharged,” said a health ministry spokeswoman.
“Four of them went home. Three other suspected cases were in too serious a case to flee,” the spokeswoman added.
But some of the demonstrators went into contaminated zones of the camp, according to one aid worker.
“The demonstrators wanted to attack the transit centre” and burned some of the tents, the health ministry said.
Kigali declared the Ebola epidemic in August 2018 and it has already claimed 356 lives. That has generated concern that the disease could spread to other major towns in the region, such as Goma and Kisangani and even neighbouring Uganda.