Congo police detain ex-health minister in Ebola funds probe

Health Watch

In this photo of Wednesday, Sept.11, 2019, Congolese student and Ebola survivor Claude Mabowa, middle in striped red T-shirt with his friends. take a celfiein Beni, Congo. Mabowa managed to pass his college entrance exam while in isolation for treatment. Mabowa, who took them in July behind glass, said this week that this brings him hope he can still realize his dreams. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro)

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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Police in Congo have detained the former minister of health amid an investigation into the use of Ebola funds as confirmed Ebola deaths rose to near 2,000 and confirmed cases of the virus exceeded 3,000 in the sprawling African nation.

Former Minister of Health Oly Ilunga was taken into custody, police said in a statement Saturday.

Ilunga resigned in July to protest President Felix Tshisekedi’s decision to take over the management of the response to the world’s second deadliest Ebola outbreak, which is ongoing now in eastern Congo, from Ilunga. As he resigned, Ilunga deplored the lack of cooperation between him, the president and the prime minister in response to the deadly Ebola outbreak.

Police said Saturday that Ilunga had been arrested less than a month ago for misdemeanor offenses involving the mishandling of funds and he was released. He has since made plans to travel to the neighboring Republic of Congo, they said, adding he was taken into custody to make sure he would not avoid legal proceedings.

Congo’s National Ebola Response Committee released the latest Ebola numbers Friday after a discussion in Goma by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church about efforts to help stem the spread of Ebola in communities. A mistrust of health workers and widespread security issues still threaten the fight against the Ebola outbreak in a region where armed groups have fought for decades over the mineral-rich land.

The committee reported there were 3,002 confirmed Ebola cases with 1,974 confirmed deaths.

The World Health Organization said Friday they recorded 40 new cases of Ebola — the lowest weekly incidence of Ebola since March 2019 — but said it was unclear if this positive trend would continue.

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