Congo soldiers, police to enforce Ebola emergency measures

Congo soldiers, police to enforce Ebola emergency measures

A year after the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak was first announced, the WHO's decision aims to combat the spread of the deadly disease.

The Congo outbreak of Ebola is now the second largest ever recorded, with the largest being the West African epidemic of 2014-2016. However, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the Associated Press that the spread of Ebola to Goma was a potential "game-changer".

Robert Steffen, Chairperson of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, moved for the declaration of Congo as a case of international concern today.

"We need to do everything possible now to avoid reaching the scale of the outbreak we saw in West Africa five years ago when more than 10,000 lives were lost before a multi-billion-dollar response brought the cases down to zero", UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said at a meeting last week. "We all owe it to these responders - coming from World Health Organization as well as government, communities, and partners - to shoulder more of the burden".

The outbreak in the Africa country's eastern region has now spread to Goma, a gateway city of 2 million people on the border of Rwanda.

"The response teams from Beni and Butembo continue the investigations to trace the pastor's journey and identify his contacts in these two cities". The patient, who was not known to be a contact, traveled to Goma with several other people in a bus.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of global concern, citing the geographical spread of the virus. Such a designation, as Aizenman reported, is "a technically symbolic gesture that can galvanize worldwide funding".

The World Health Organization said on Thursday there were now no cases outside DRC, but several cases were recorded in Uganda last month, including two deaths.

The emergency committee of worldwide health experts that advises the WHO had three times declined to declare an emergency - a rare designation aimed galvanizing global support.

Given the ongoing challenges in responding to the outbreak, MSF believes that Ebola-related activities should be integrated into the existing healthcare system, in order to improve proximity of the services to the community and ensure that it remains functional during the outbreak. In its travel advisory the CDC has said "the risk of Ebola infection for most travelers to DRC is low". Its border with Uganda is more than 540 miles long.

The African CDC has so far deployed 41 experts, trained 800 local health workers and supported the construction of 3000 laboratories where the testing for Ebola are being conducted in the DRC.

The WHO says the risk to neighbouring countries is "very high". And more than 30 new cases are being reported each month in northeast DRC, which is largely a regional war zone. "Together with the government, we can and will end this outbreak".

Those working in the field say the outbreak is clearly taking a turn for the worse despite advances in this outbreak that include the widespread use of an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine.

"We frequently talk about the need to connect the philanthropic improvement nexus", Dr. Tedro said.

Workers in Americares Connecticut distribution center prepare a shipment of medical supplies for the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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