International aid agencies and officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been battling the Ebola virus for a year in what is the worst outbreak in the country’s history.
As death toll climbs – it has now reached 1,670 – the pressure mounts on those charged with eradicating it.
Until recently, it was rarely compared with the world’s worst Ebola epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2015.
This regional catastrophe was fuelled by poor planning and inadequate knowledge and it would claim the lives of at least 11,000 people.
However, doctors and aid workers in DR Congo are now actively thinking about the similarities. Like West Africa, there are plenty of other countries in travelling distance where Ebola victims can quickly spread the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says a Congolese woman who died earlier this month travelled to a Ugandan market where she vomited four times.
In addition, Sky News understands that the relatives of a pastor who recently contracted the disease initially fled to Rwanda.
The church leader died after he was discovered in the bustling border city of Goma.
Spread by spit, sweat, blood and faeces, Ebola is highly infectious and once it has taken root in a community it is very difficult to eliminate – and there are experts who think the infection will never be eradicated it in a place like eastern DR Congo.
That is not what Blaise Mahamba thinks, however.
The 35-year old health worker has been deployed to a small village called Aloya and we watched him trying to educate people about the dangers of the disease.
“Everyone do this, keep your distance from each other and protect yourself. Stay away from your neighbour. You really don’t know where he has been,” he says.
He was shouting at a large group of people queuing for food at a brand new distribution centre run by the World Food Programme (WFP).
The WFP wants people who have been in direct contact with Ebola victims to stay put and not travel and they were offering 20kg sacks of rice and beans to anyone who fit the criteria.
However, I did notice that few people were paying Mr Mahamba much attention.
“Can you win this thing?” I asked. “Can you stop Ebola?”
“Yes, it is possible,” he said confidently. “We will win this fight by educating them, sensitising them, because at the beginning people were hiding in the forest but now they are coming to us.”
Yet Dr Isse Bahemi, who runs a nearby clinic, has a different view.
He told me that 66 people have already died in this village and he expects the death toll to rise.
“We have a serious challenge, a problem,” he said.
“Most people refuse to come here if they will think we will transfer them to a treatment centre. By the time we see them, they are already very ill.”
These specialist Ebola treatment centres are crammed with new patients seeking admission every day.
It will take a mammoth effort by international agencies and their local partners if they are going to stop the flow.
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