As authorities continue to battle the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new helicopter “air bridge” operation to reach communities still at risk.
The limited daily helicopter service will transport vaccination teams and epidemiologists to the communities that they cannot easily access. Dr Michel Yao, Incident Manager with the WHO Ebola Response team in the DRC, said the communities the operation will serve have come to the Ebola responders seeking help. They “want the intervention,” he insisted, “but around we have armed groups that prevent us from reaching these communities.”
The launch of the service comes amid an increase in the number of reported cases of the disease. While the number of reported new cases had dropped to single digits in recent weeks, there were 27 new confirmed cases reported from 4 to 10 December. Among those who died was an individual who had recovered from Ebola earlier this year. The WHO is now investigating whether the individual was reinfected, which has never been documented, or had suffered a relapse, which has happened before.