Congo's Ebola outbreak to worsen without stepped-up response: WHO committee

Kenny Tucker
October 20, 2018

Uganda has had multiple Ebola outbreaks since 2000. It says the risk of worldwide spread is low.

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.

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.

Some of the measures Uganda has implemented to control any transmission and spread of the diseases into Uganda are; Screening of all people crossing from DRC into Uganda for signs and symptoms of Ebola, communities have been sensitized about Ebola and are vigilant and reporting any suspicious Ebola case.

Congo's health minister, Oly Ilunga, told the BBC ahead of the meeting that his country didn't want the declaration, saying that "I think the situation is quite under control".

The agency identified 39 new confirmed cases that were reported between October 1 and 11, including 32 from Beni.

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Weeks after the all clear was sounded after the Ebola outbreak recorded in Equateur province in the DRC last May, another outbreak occurred in the conflict-torn North Kivu province in the east of the central African giant. The committee said it was particularly important that no such restrictions were imposed.

The four drugs used during the outbreak are ZMapp, developed by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.; remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences collaboration with the USA government; REGN3470-3471-3479, developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; and favipiravir, developed by Toyama Chemical of Japan.

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.

The agency also declared a public health emergency of global concern in February 2016 over the Zika virus.

World Health Organization leaders said the use of Merck's experimental Ebola vaccine has been vital in outbreak response, with more than 18,000 people vaccinated so far during this outbreak.

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