Congo Ebola Response Suffers Setback as WHO Evacuates Some Staff After Attack

A health worker in protective gear works at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (AL-HADJI KUDRA MALIRO/AP)
A health worker in protective gear works at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (AL-HADJI KUDRA MALIRO/AP)

The World Health Organization has evacuated 16 people working to contain the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following a rebel attack near the area where they were staying, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Saturday.

The decision marks another violence-related setback for the response to the outbreak, but Tedros said in an interview with STAT that he hoped containment operations could resume as normal soon.

Overall, the response team in the area comprises more than 200 health workers and others, he said.

The attack appears to have targeted a camp used by United Nations peacekeeping forces in Beni, a city in northeastern Congo that is currently a hot spot for Ebola transmission. The camp is located near a hotel where some Ebola responders are staying.

Tedros said leaders of the response operation called him to inform him an attack was underway on Friday night, and he could hear heavy gunfire over the phone.

“They called me immediately and the gunfire was very close to them,” he said.

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SOURCE: HELEN BRANSWELL
STAT