March 25 (UPI) -- The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo reached more than 1,000 cases over the weekend, international health officials said.
Officials reported 58 new cases over the past week, bringing the total number of cases in the world's second-largest Ebola outbreak to more than 1,000, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement.
"These numbers show that despite the hard work being done, this outbreak is far from over. Insecurity and violence has led to the IRC and other agencies being forced to frequently suspend programs, which time and again we have seen lead to a spike in case," said Tariq Riebl, the IRC's emergency response director for the DRC.
The outbreak has a fatality rate of about 60 percent and there have been 629 deaths so far, including 564 people who died from confirmed cases of Ebola, ABC News reported.
"Before being a public health emergency, an Ebola epidemic is above all a human and social tragedy," the country's health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said Sunday. "Behind these numbers are several hundred Congolese families directly affected by the virus and hundreds of orphans."
Most cases have been recorded in the towns of Katwa and Beni in North Kivu province.
The IRC said it isn't typical for case totals to be increasing at this stage of an outbreak and forecast that it may last another six to 12 months.
"We are already almost seven months into this outbreak and at this stage we should be seeing the case rate declining, not on the rise. With an optimistic outlook this outbreak is predicted to last another six months -- but realistically we could be looking towards another year of fighting this disease," Riebl said.