WHO convenes emergency meeting on Congo’s Ebola outbreak

WHO emergency committee to meet on Congo’s Ebola outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) will on Wednesday convene an emergency committee to decide whether the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of worldwide concern, the global health body said on Monday. The Committee will gather this Wednesday, October 17th, in Geneva to discuss whether this recent Ebola outbreak represents a public health crisis of global concern and what are the recommendations that should be developed to address this epidemic. In response to the challenges faced in this outbreak, the committee issued public health advice (see infographic).

There have been 214 Ebola cases so far (179 confirmed, 35 probable), with 139 deaths (104 cases confirmed, 35 probable), according to the latest figures from the WHO.

The agency identified 39 new confirmed cases were reported between 1 and 11 October, 32 of which are from Beni.

The outbreak was declared on August 1 and worsened in recent weeks, with risk of the virus spreading from northeastern Congo into Uganda and Rwanda.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has convened "an emergency committee" on the current outbreak in DRC's violence-torn North Kivu region, which has killed 135 people since August, the United Nations health agency said. The region has surpassed the Mangina Health Zone to become the epicenter of the outbreak.

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Because of the increase in violent events, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relocated CDC health workers that were volunteering in violent areas, effectively pulling the workers from areas with the most need.

In spite of the growing number of cases and armed conflict, outbreak response efforts remain underway. Of them, just over half recovered, 20 were still in hospital and the rest died. "It means that we are unable to follow up 80 percent of the people who are at direct risk of Ebola in Beni".

It added that it was also increasing the risk of the outbreak spreading within DRC, and to neighbouring countries, especially Rwanda and Uganda.

World Health Organization stated that it had amended "its risk assessment of the Ebola epidemic in the DRC due to potential risk factors for Ebola transmission at the national and regional levels, including transport links and population movements".

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