On the front lines of eastern Congo’s Ebola outbreak

Jerome Delay/AP

Around the same time the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo a “public health emergency of international concern,” Associated Press photographer Jerome Delay was at the epicenter of the epidemic: the city of Beni. In the last year, more than 1,700 have died, and the rate of infections isn’t abetting, WHO officials said. “There’s a lot of distrust among the population, with many believing that the virus is a hoax,” Delay said.

Health workers in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni.

Jerome Delay/AP

Health workers check on Ivette Adania, 24, a mother of four whose husband died of Ebola.

Jerome Delay/AP

Rubber gloves and boots are hung to dry after being disinfected.

Jerome Delay/AP

Health workers check on a patient isolated in a plastic cube.

Jerome Delay/AP

A woman waits at the morgue for the body of her relative to be cleared for burial.

Jerome Delay/AP

A health worker rests at the end of his shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni.

Jerome Delay/AP

Compared with the previous outbreak in West Africa, which killed close to 11,000 people from 2014 to 2016, the response has been more organized. Buckets of bleach are displayed outside hotels, restaurants and clinics, while infected patients are treated in individual plastic cubes to limit the risks of contagion. Health workers can also rely on an effective vaccine, despite the deep mistrust in villages around Beni. “I think this vaccination campaign has helped saved the lives of many, many people,” Delay said.

Red Cross workers carry the remains of 16-month-old Muhindo Kakinire into a truck as health workers disinfect the area.

Jerome Delay/AP

Congolese journalists broadcast an Ebola awareness program from a local radio station in Beni.

Jerome Delay/AP

Residents line up to be vaccinated against Ebola in Beni.

Jerome Delay/AP

On July 14, Delay followed burial workers clad in protective gear as they carried the remains of Mussa Kathembo, an Islamic scholar, and his wife, Asiya. Both had contracted the virus after caring for and praying over those dying of Ebola.

Burial workers put on protective gear before carrying the remains of Mussa Kathembo, an Islamic scholar, and his wife, Asiya, to their final resting place.

Jerome Delay/AP

Burial workers carry the remains of Mussa Kathembo.

Jerome Delay/AP

Ismael Kasereka, 14, weeps at the funeral of his uncle and aunt, Mussa and Asiya Kathembo.

Jerome Delay/AP

Workers bury the remains of Mussa Kathembo.

Jerome Delay/AP

Sunlight shines on freshly dug graves in Beni.

Jerome Delay/AP

While the epidemic isn’t out of control, Congolese continue to die. And armed attacks against health workers aren’t helping. The North Kivu province has known conflict for more than 25 years, torn by “armed groups and militias that the government in Kinshasa or the United Nations can’t control,” Delay said. “This region didn’t wait for the Ebola virus to suffer.”

Congolese soldiers patrol the streets of Beni.

Jerome Delay/AP