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Ebola Cases Top 3,000 in Democratic Republic of Congo

FILE - A health worker wearing Ebola protection gear prepares to enter the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 30, 2019.

The Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has reached another grim milestone, the World Health Organization says. More than one year after the epidemic was declared, the WHO confirmed 3,004 cases, including 2,006 deaths.

That is the second worst Ebola outbreak after the 2014 West African epidemic, which infected more than 28,000 people and killed more than 11,000.

Most Ebola cases in the current epidemic are in the Democratic Republic of Congo's conflict-ridden North Kivu province. WHO says Ebola transmission has been substantial, but somewhat less intense for the past 10 weeks. On average, it says 80 people a week are being sickened by the virus.

Unlike previous outbreaks, health workers have new tools to help them tackle the deadly disease. WHO says more than 200,000 people in the DRC and in four neighboring countries have been vaccinated against Ebola, and two therapeutic treatments are saving the lives of people who seek early treatment.

More than 89 million people have been screened for the disease inside the DRC and at international borders, according to WHO, which has helped control the spread of the disease by identifying and providing care to anyone with symptoms.

However, WHO added, ongoing insecurity in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, as well as community mistrust, continue to be major impediments to international efforts to bring the epidemic to an end.