Thursday, 12 December, 2019


Expert meeting under way to decide if Ebola is emergency

Ebola in Uganda Expert meeting under way to decide if Ebola is emergency
Patty Aguilar | 16 June, 2019, 17:40

On Thursday, WHO's emergencies chief acknowledged the agency has been unable to track the origins of almost half of new Ebola cases in Congo amid the challenges, suggesting it doesn't know where the virus is spreading.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) advisory panel decided on Friday not to declare an global public health emergency over the Ebola outbreak in Congo and Uganda, saying that the criteria had not been met. On average, half of the people who contract Ebola die as a result of the disease.

People coming from Congo have their temperature measured to screen for symptoms of Ebola, at the Mpondwe border crossing with Congo, in western Uganda Friday, June 14, 2019.

Further, the probability of an individual health worker detecting an isolated Ebola case was less than 10%. They have all been restricted to their homes and will be offered the Ebola vaccine.

Glennon said the outbreaks of 2018-19 and 2013-16 may have been compounded by more frequent human movement, conflict, and a lack of effective diagnosis.

The panel, which twice before decided not to declare an emergency, will make recommendations to World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who takes the final decision. It added that the rapid response and containment plan that was put in place along the DRC's eastern border with Uganda has worked well.

So far, the virus has killed more than 1,400 people since the outbreak began in August, making it the second-deadliest in history.

The agency said that while the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo constitutes a health emergency for that country and the region, the risk of it spreading beyond that region is low. He called on the global community to fill a $54 million funding gap.

Following its emergency committee meeting today, World Health Organization reports that while the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC and Uganda is deeply concerning, it doesn't meet the criteria for an worldwide emergency declaration.

This week it did cross a border - into Uganda.

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies program, said that he expected Uganda to approve the use of experimental therapeutic drug treatments, to be shipped "in coming days".

Several of DRC's neighbors have been preparing for months for the possibility that infected people might cross into their territory.

A nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid possible retribution, questioned why some people who might have been exposed to Ebola are allowed to stay at home.

A health ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the two victims had "attended the burial of an Ebola patient in Congo, but returned to Uganda".

The outbreak, occurring close to the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, has been like no other.

Uganda hopes to repatriate the two new Ebola patients to DR Congo, saying they will get better treatment in specialised clinics there.

The illness causes internal bleeding and is easily transmitted through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid.

"Uganda remains in Ebola response mode to follow up the 27 contacts (of the family)", the statement said.

Authorities in DR Congo have been at pains to rein in the disease's spread in part because health workers have been repeatedly targeted in violence-ridden eastern Congo, the epicentre of the outbreak.

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