Congo Ebola outbreak not an 'emergency of international concern,' WHO says

20 October, 2018, 01:55 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Medical workers are seen disinfecting and performing medical checks inside the unconfirmed Ebola patients ward run by The Alliance for International Medical Action

Uganda is at "big risk" of the spread of a deadly Ebola virus outbreak from neighbouring Congo, a senior health official said Thursday, even as he said the situation is "being handled well" there.

The DRC Ministry of Health, WHO and other partners have been responding to the outbreak with teams on the ground, but WHO has warned that continuing insecurity severely affects both civilians and frontline workers, forcing the suspension of the response for several days in late September, and raising the risk that the virus will continue to spread.

He also emphasized that the WHO will keep in place 250 health workers now in-country fighting the disease.

The Ministry of Health has Wednesday come out to inform the general public that there is no confirmed case of Ebola in Uganda.

"We do have some optimism that this outbreak, just like the one in May, will be brought under control in a reasonable amount of time", Steffen said.

Uganda is the most threatened as the risk of Ebola's regional spread is "very high", with confirmed cases discovered in recent weeks near the heavily travelled border.

The DRC's health ministry reported 4 new cases, 3 of which are in the latest epicenter of Beni.

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North Kivu province is home to more than 1 million displaced people and countless rebel groups.

"Declaring this could have released more resources, including finance, healthcare workers, enhanced security and infrastructure - as well as more worldwide political support", he said in a statement.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said Wednesday that the committee's decision was backed by "good reasons".

The four drugs used during the outbreak are ZMapp, developed by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.; remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc.in collaboration with the United States government; REGN3470-3471-3479, developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; and favipiravir, developed by Toyama Chemical of Japan. The committee said it was particularly important that no such restrictions were imposed.

Steffan said the committee agreed that declaring an global emergency at this time would hinder efforts to contain the Ebola virus.

World Health Organization officials also previewed the addition of a new "more geographical, population-based vaccination strategy" along with the traditional ring vaccine strategy used throughout the outbreak.

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