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DRC: MSF involved in the pandemic response in Ituri

Since March 2020, and the first COVID-19 notified case in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Médecins Sans Frontières has been supporting the medical response, particularly in Nizi, Angumu and Drodro.

One of the team at the COVID-19 center in Bunia

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, which has been elevated to pandemic status affecting more than 27 million people in 183 countries worldwide, first appeared in the DRC in March 2020. Currently, the virus is present in 18 provinces and more than 10,200 people (figures as of September 6) have tested positive. Long spared, the province of Ituri is now facing an increase in the number of cases (115 confirmed as of September 6) and deaths.

In order to strengthen prevention measures among the population in Ituri, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been supporting, since March, the medical response coordinated by the health authorities against the spread of COVID-19, particularly in Nizi, Angumu and Drodro. This support is twofold, including awareness-raising actions on the spread of the disease and the care of symptomatic people. Thus, MSF was responsible for organizing training for medical staff and information sessions for communities, but also for setting up hand washing points, triage sites and isolation areas in MSF-supported hospitals.

View of the 15-beds capacity Covid-19 treatment center run by MSF in Bunia, Ituri

View of the COVID-19 treatment center run by MSF in Bunia, Ituri . The center has  15 beds capacity  [ © MSF/Avra Fialas]

MSF is an independent, non-governmental medical emergency organization that puts the population at the heart of its work. The new coronavirus is actively circulating and represents a new daily danger for the inhabitants of Ituri province. In order to stem its spread, community involvement is fundamental in the adherence and implementation of barrier actions.

Because the virus affects the respiratory tract, information session facilitators emphasize vigilance in the face of symptoms of the disease (generalized weakness, fever, dry cough and sometimes pneumonia or difficulty breathing). For those most at risk of developing a severe form (respiratory distress) and dying, the elderly and those with other conditions, the chances of survival in the event of severe symptoms (high fever, difficulty breathing, pain and tightness in the chest) are higher if they are treated quickly.

In Bunia and Nizi, treatment centers have been set up for patients suffering from a severe form of the disease for which hospitalization is essential. Admission to the treatment center is voluntary and MSF is particularly interested in ensuring that no patient is brought there under duress. Finally, treatment is provided free of charge and visits by relatives are allowed in accordance with protocols to avoid contamination.

COVID-19 Coronavirus

Most of the world's countries have reported cases of coronavirus disease COVID-19 and MSF teams in over 70 countries are now racing to respond to the pandemic.  

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