UNITED NATIONS – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to the epicenter of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo next week.
The DRC is no stranger to periodic outbreaks of the Ebola virus, but this most recent epidemic is the worst the African nation has seen in 40 years.
The World Health Organization says the country has recorded more than 2,800 confirmed cases and at least 1,900 deaths from the virus, which spreads primarily through contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected fruit bats or monkeys.
Guterres plans to visit the country for three days, arriving Aug. 31. His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters that Guterres wants to assess the situation and mobilize additional support for the response.
“In the province of North Kivu, he is scheduled to meet with Ebola survivors and health workers during a visit to an Ebola treatment center,” Dujarric said.
He also is to meet with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in the capital, Kinshasa.
In July, the WHO declared the Ebola outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern.
The majority of cases have been concentrated in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, in the country’s northeast, but cases have emerged in other parts of the country.
At least three cases were also confirmed in June in neighboring Uganda. The people infected with the virus there had traveled from the DRC and had been in contact with a relative who died of Ebola.