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Video: Fighting Ebola deep in the rainforest

FRANCE 24

While the deadly Ebola epidemic rages on in West Africa, medics are fighting a separate outbreak in an isolated area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). FRANCE 24 reporters visited a treatment centre in the remote town of Lokolia.

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It can take staff from the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders – MSF) a full day to reach their Ebola clinic in Lokolia. The town lies 60km from the nearest airport down a treacherous mud track, more than 1,200km from the capital Kinshasa.

According to official figures, the virus has killed 42 people in this rainforest area of north-western DRC, and more are being treated at MSF’s treatment centre.

“You can have a period of calm with only a few cases but that doesn’t mean it’s over,” said Doctor Carolina Nanclares from MSF. “We have to continue the efforts of surveillance, to check who had contact with Ebola patients, and to actively look for patients before we can say this is over.”

“It is forbidden to touch anyone”

Visitors must wash their hands and feet with chlorinated water as they enter the clinic, and a double row of makeshift railings materialises a safe distance when talking to infected patients.

While an infected woman was recovering here after successful treatment, MSF staff were alerted to the suspicious death of a young girl in a nearby village. Clad in full protective gear, they head out to take samples from her body for testing, and to disinfect her home.

“We have to be very vigilant,” MSF’s Eric Kanumay told FRANCE 24. “For now, nothing shows that the girl had Ebola. But to avoid every risk, our staff has to wear protective clothing to bury her safely.”

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