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Medical workers lead a young girl with suspected Ebola into a treatment center in Beni on Aug. 12. Photo: John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images

The escalation of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo jeopardizes the recent gains made in halting the ongoing Ebola outbreak and could trigger a surge in new infections if health care workers and civilians are not protected, World Health Organization officials warned Wednesday.

The perfect storm: Peter Salama, WHO's head of emergency response, said Tuesday they were "extremely concerned" about recent violence that in some areas endangered health officials and halting the Ebola prevention and treatment regimes.

"A perfect storm of active conflict, limiting our ability to access civilians, distress by segments of the community, already traumatized by decades of conflict."
— Peter Salama

What's happening now: While violence has been an ongoing issue with certain areas in DRC, there was a recent surge in violence when an attack Saturday in Beni killed at least 21 people and elevated tensions between different sectors there.

  • Per Al Jazeera, the Congolese army blames the Allied Democratic Forces, one of the notorious rebel militias trying to gain control of DRC's mineral resources, amongst other things.

Health concerns: As Salama tweeted below, one of the concerns is that public health officials have not been able to reach out to the "contacts" of people known to be infected to ensure they had not been infected themselves. This could mean the infection could spread rapidly without them knowing.

  • Tracking contacts is an important method of controlling the spread of Ebola and also provides an indication of the outbreak status, as it's considered a good sign once all new infections can be traced directly to a known infected patient.

Go deeper: Violence in Congo imperils efforts to combat Ebola outbreak (The Washington Post)

Go deeper

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4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.