Ebola death toll tops 500 in DRC with nearly 100 children killed

There is no cure for Ebola yet, just a vaccine. /COURTESY
There is no cure for Ebola yet, just a vaccine. /COURTESY

Ebola has now killed more than 500 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including almost 100 children, according to the latest figures.

As of

February 11, 816 people have been infected, 755 confirmed and 61 probable, and 513 have died – a death rate of 61 per cent.

The outbreak, the second worst in history, has ravaged the country since officials confirmed the return of the virus in August.

Aid workers on the ground warned in January that the outbreak is expected to rage on until at least the middle of the year.

Thousands of lives have been saved by vaccinations, according to the country's government, which is administering them in high risk areas.

But efforts to slow the spread are being hampered in the unstable region, where conflict and mistrust of government and health workers is rife.

A health ministry bulletin reported on Friday: 'In total, there have been 502 deaths and 271 people cured.'

Of these,

97 have been children, with the majority under the age of five, according to

figures from the non-profit organisation Save the Children.

The organisations fears the death toll among children will rise, considering the number of new cases spiked in January, from around 20 per week to more than 40.

Heather Kerr, Save the Children's country director in the DRC, said: 'We are at a crossroads. If we don't take urgent steps to contain this, the outbreak might last another six months, if not the whole year.

'The DRC is a country suffering from violence and conflict and an extreme hunger crisis – some 4.6 million children are acutely malnourished.

'The main concerns for many people are safety and making sure they have enough to eat. But Ebola has to be a priority too.'

But Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said that, for the first time, a vaccination programme had protected 76,425 people and prevented 'thousands' of deaths.

'I believe we have prevented the spread of the epidemic in the big cities,' he said.

'The teams also managed to contain its the spread of the epidemic to neighbouring countries.'