Congo’s Ebola outbreak slows but still global emergency

Henrietta Brewer
February 15, 2020

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), gives a statement to the media about the response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC remains a public health emergency of global concern (PHEIC), according to the worldwide Health Regulations Emergency Committee, convened by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 12 February.

The World Health Organization last July declared it a "public health emergency of global concern" - a designation that gives the WHO greater powers to restrict travel and boost funding. However, DR Congo also fights against another virus, Ebola.

"The signs are extremely positive in the eastern DRC, and I hope that by the time the Emergency Committee reconvenes, we will be able to declare an end to the outbreak", top official said.

World Health Organization reported a total of 3,431 cases of Ebola, including 2,253 deaths in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

While the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee maintained the PHEIC, it downgraded the risk of further spread at local and regional level from "very high" to "high".

For the United Nations body, to declare the outbreak over 42 days must pass since the last possible exposure of a confirmed case.

The designation past year came a few days after a patient was diagnosed with the virus in the provincial capital Goma - the first case in a major urban hub.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 per cent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

The WHO recommends that the DRC should continue building trust with survivors and community awareness and engagement to prevent resurgence of the disease, while enhancing acceptance of response measures and addressing access and security issues.

The Beni region, straddling the North Kivu and Ituri provinces, has been repeatedly attacked by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, which civic activists say has massacred more than 300 people since October.

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