United Nations agencies jointly call for solidarity to end Ebola outbreak in DRC

Henrietta Brewer
August 1, 2019

Goma, a city of around two million people, sits on the border with Rwanda and acts as a busy transportation hub, running an worldwide airport and overseeing around 15,000 border crossings each day.

The epidemiologist in charge of the Ebola response team, Jean Jacques Muyembe, said response teams began de-contaminating the areas where the patient had passed through and that vaccinations would start tomorrow.

With the ongoing situation in DRC, the WHO has raised the highest level of alarm declaring the disease as a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) ".

"This latest case in such a dense population center underscores the very real risk of further disease transmission, perhaps beyond the country's borders, and the very urgent need for a strengthened global response and increased donor investment", the joint statement said.

There have been more than 2,600 confirmed cases since the Ebola crisis, the second-largest in global history, was declared as an outbreak last August 1. The epidemic has killed more than 1,700 people since it was declared nearly a year ago, becoming the second-worst outbreak on record.

Surveillance is being stepped up at all entry and exit points in the area, but more needs to be done to eradicate Ebola, the officials said, calling for a "strong, resilient health system" to avoid a resurgence of the disease in DRC.

The decision came a few days after the first case of Ebola was detected in Goma.

The virus was declared a public health emergency of worldwide concern just two weeks ago, the statement's authors noted, and a new case was confirmed in Goma on July 30. Earlier in July, local officials announced that the first Ebola patient in Goma had died.

"The risk of national #Ebola spread is high". "The population in Goma, DRC is highly mobile, so this is an event we have anticipated".

He added: "At this time we have no specific information regarding a specific exposure to a known Ebola case". Fall and Gressley also said there is no evidence the second case is connected to the first. The United Nations and partners are continuing to ramp up the response in support of the Government and to further bolster joint action, the UN leaders said.

Goma had prepared for the arrival of Ebola for months by setting up hand-washing stations, making sure moto-taxi drivers didn't share helmets, vaccinating 3,000 healthcare workers, and running an operational treatment centre since February.

Other reports by iNewsToday