(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 7, 2018 a health worker waits to handle a new unconfirmed Ebola patient at a newly build MSF (Doctors Without Borders) supported Ebola treatment centre (ETC) in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo. – Photographers for Agence France-Presse scooped up four nominations on February 20, 2019 in the prestigious 2019 World Press Photo of the Year Award, with the winners to be announced at a gala event in April. Kinshasa-based shooter John Wessels bagged two nominations in the General News – Singles category for including a picture taken of a Congolese health worker waiting for a suspected Ebola patient. (Photo by John WESSELS / AFP)
Agence France-Presse

Police and soldiers repelled an attack on an Ebola treatment centre in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo overnight, killing one assailant, a government official said on Monday.

The dead man was a member of the Mai-Mai rebel group, Sylvain Kanyamanda, the mayor of Butembo in the North Kivu province, told AFP.

“The security forces prevented the attackers from crossing a 40m perimeter” around the centre where Ebola patients were being treated.

North Kivu province is at the centre of a new outbreak of the viral disease which has killed more than 1 100 people since last August out of about 1 600 infected, according to the authorities. Among these, 99 health workers have been infected, and 34 have died.

The Ebola fightback in the region is hampered by the presence of warring armed groups, including the Mai-Mai, and by locals in denial who refuse treatment and ignore prevention advice.

Last week, the UN special representative to the DRC blasted rumours that the world body was trying to cash in on Ebola.

Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN mission to the sprawling central African nation, slammed as “sheer madness” local speculation that “there is no illness, that they want to poison us because they are trying to cash in on us”.

The outbreak is the biggest on Congolese soil since the disease was first recorded in the country, then Zaire, in 1976.

An epidemic in 2014-16 killed 11 300 people in West Africa.

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