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Air Serv continues Ebola fightback in perilous DRC
In July Air Serv worked with the authorities in DRC to contain an outbreak in the west of the country that claimed 33 lives. Just a few weeks later, it is battling a deadly strain of the virus in the east.
Read this story in our September 2018 printed issue.

Air Serv has arranged two more relief flights from Entebbe, Uganda, to Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in response to the Ebola outbreak in the region. Bunia is located northeast of Mangina, the initial site of the outbreak. The operator dispatched two Cessna Caravans from Uganda last month carrying two tonnes of medical supplies and cargo, which were offloaded by crew before the aircraft returned to Entebbe.

The most recent outbreak of Ebola in eastern DRC is attributed to the high fatality rate 'Zaire' strain of the virus, and the death toll has risen to 49. Health officials have disclosed that the outbreak has now spread from the province of North Kivu to neighbouring Ituri and 90 cases have been reported, 10 of which are healthcare providers.

Field teams working to contain the outbreak have also identified more than 2,000 potentially exposed contacts, and incubation can last up to 21 days. Added to this, the extreme insecurity of the region caused by clashes between government officials and rebels forces have made it difficult to trace the path of the virus. According to Tarik Jasarevic of the World Health Organisation in Geneva: "We are at a critical moment where we are not yet sure we have all the chains of transmission identified." He warns that the corners of the province that contact tracers cannot reach could allow the virus to continue spreading.

"It's a very, very complex operation," adds World Health Organisation deputy director general for emergency preparedness and response Peter Salama. "In terms of difficulty, trying to extinguish a deadly outbreak pathogen in a war zone is at the top of the scale."

Air Serv is expected to continue performing response flights, transporting critically needed medicine, protective gear and personnel. An outbreak in the west of the country that claimed 33 lives – for which Air Serv loaned a Cessna Caravan – was contained in July.

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