Monday, 19 August, 2019

World Health Organization sounds Ebola alarm as risks intensify

Congolese Ebola victim may have entered Rwanda, says WHO Stamford's Americares Sends More Aid for Ebola Outbreak
Anna Jefferson | 18 July, 2019, 19:00

The coordinator of the outbreak response at Congo's health ministry said Thursday that soldiers and police will "force" people who resist taking the key steps to help contain the deadly disease.

The Committee cited latest developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of nearly 2,000,000 individuals on the outskirt with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.

The three criteria for such a declaration are that it is an "extraordinary event", that it "constitute a public health risk to other States through the worldwide spread of disease" and that it "potentially require a coordinated global response".

At the same time, the Committee reinforced the need to protect livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open, saying it is essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities.

Wednesday's conference marked the fourth time since the DRC outbreak was declared on August 1, 2018, that the WHO's International Health Regulations Emergency Committee has met to consider designating the Ebola epidemic a "public health emergency of international concern".

WHO workers and their partners are also conducting health screenings on roadways, particularly on the DRC's borders, to try to prevent the spread of the virus.

The health minister for the Democratic Republic of the Congo has stated an experimental Ebola vaccine will not be trialled in the country.

"It is important that the world follows these recommendations".

Responders had hoped that this Ebola outbreak would be easier to control, thanks in part to a new vaccine.

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At a news conference Wednesday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described "a concerning geographic expansion", but World Health Organization said the outbreak does not pose a global threat.

The WHO's global health regulations, drafted in 2005, say that the emergency label should apply to a situation that is "an extraordinary event that poses a public health risk to other countries through worldwide spread and that potentially requires a coordinated worldwide response".

Reacting to the emergency declaration, the president of Doctors Without Borders, Joanne Liu, called for "a change of gear" in the response to the outbreak. The UN overall has also recognized the seriousness of the emergency by activating the "Humanitarian System-wide Scale-Up" to support the Ebola response.

Tedros said: "Although there is no evidence yet of local Ebola transmission in either Goma, Congo or Uganda, these two events represent a concerning geographical expansion of the virus".

This is after a patient exhibited suspected symptoms of the haemorrhagic fever at Kitovu Hospital, Masaka District.

The WHO chief said Wednesday that there has been violence in the region for years.

She was initially admitted at Byansi Clinic before being transferred to Kitovu Hospital. It cited a Ugandan health ministry report.

As of July 16 of 2019, there had been 2,522 confirmed or probable cases, including 136 health workers affected, and the confirmed or probable deaths totaled 1,698 in the country.

Mr Ainebyona thus urged the residents of Kyotera to be calm as Ministry of Health investigates the alert case.

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