>> Health workers in the Congo are racing to contain an outbreak of Ebola, after three patients infected with the deadly virus escaped hospital. The patients had been in an isolation ward in the city of Mbandaka, but fled on motorcycles after relatives came to collect them. One went straight to church, while another went home.
They both died the following day. Reuter's Aaron Ross is in Dakar.>> This is extremely concerning, especially because the fact that they died so shortly thereafter means that they were extremely contagious to those around them. And so health workers worked very quickly to identify all the contacts, the people they came into contact with.
To vaccinate some of those people, and further trace any additional contacts that may have taken place.>> Congo is a very religious country, where people can have more trust in their spiritual leaders than in medical staff.>> And many people attribute what's happening to witchcraft or sorcery, rather than the scientific explanations that medical staff are trying to get across to them.
And so a lot of people, whether to receive spiritual counseling or just to be at home, and not find themselves in this often dehumanizing and lonely isolation, they do think about leaving the hospital.>> Health officials are particularly concerned by the disease's presence in Mbandaka, a crowded trading hub upstream of Kinshasa, that's home to around ten million people.
> They set up this Ebola awareness community group to educate locals about how the disease is transmitted. But staff say there's not a lot they can do to prevent patients from leaving hospitals.