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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

Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.