World Health Organization calls crisis meeting over deadly Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

Laverne Higgins
October 20, 2018

The WHO has said it could spread at any time to Uganda or Rwanda, although both countries were well prepared.

This Ebola outbreak, the seventh largest in history, with 216 cases and 139 dead since July, has seen a sharp uptick in cases in the last few days after response efforts were limited by rebel violence, political instability and community resistance.

Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, tweeted this week that "over 10,000 at risk people have been identified & followed up" since the beginning of the outbreak.

The WHO's emergency committee decided that the outbreak was very concerning for the region, but not of wider worldwide concern, committee Chairman Dr. Robert Steffen said Wednesday in Geneva.

A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a woman before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni, in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 8, 2018.

Uganda now has been on a high alert of Ebola following the confirmation of a case by Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the North Kivu and Ituri province on August 1st, 2018.

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The Ministry of Health (MoH) has clarified that there is no case of Ebola in the country.

In a press briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, went through the criteria the Emergency Committee considers when declaring a public health emergency of global concern. The agency has estimated that more than 1 million refugees and internally displaced people are in North Kivu and Ituri, and their movement through and out of the provinces is a potential risk factor for the spread of Ebola. It said these preparedness activities were expensive and would require substantial financial support from the worldwide community.

The emergency committee reviewed the latest information on the latest outbreak and determined that it is of regional concern but not of global concern at this time.

"I think the vaccine is helping", Tedros said.

"The staff refused to even take a break, saying 'we don't want to break until this thing is finished, '" he said.

As the virus exploded in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in early 2014, World Health Organization resisted numerous calls to declare the situation an worldwide emergency.

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