The ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed more than 600 people
The ebola epidemic crippling parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo has now exceeded 1,000 cases, making it the second worst outbreak in history.
In a statement, the Congolese health ministry revealed that the total number affected stood at 1,009, with the numbers of people killed having climbed to 629.
New technologies including a trial vaccine, experimental treatments and mobile units for looking after patients had raised hopes that medics would be better equipped to cope, but security issues have hampered the response.
Five centres set up to treat those with the disease have been attacked since last month, sometimes by armed assailants, which forced a French medical charity to suspend its activities in eastern areas that are most badly affected.
Last December, Sky News visited a similar centre set up in the city of Beni, where 200 health workers were tasked with treating those admitted.
They erected a series of innovative, air-conditioned tents to house and treat the most serious cases, but there is no cure for the disease, which kills more than half of those it infects.
It has since become the second deadliest ebola outbreak of all-time, behind an unprecedented crisis in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people between 2013 and 2016.
The disease, which causes severe vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding, is thought to be able to move across vast distances due to it being carried by bats.
Large gaps between outbreaks can be explained by the likelihood that ebola-carrying bats move around and will only occasionally come into the kind of contact with people that leads to infection.
But as they are extremely social animals, the potential for the disease to spread from bat to bat – and potentially to other animals that could come into contact with humans – is very high. SkyNews