WHO declares Ebola outbreak in DRC 'public health emergency of worldwide concern'


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at present declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The Committee expressed disappointment about delays in funding which have constrained the response.

While Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that he hopes countries continue to contribute funding to the response, the emergency declaration is meant as a call for strengthened and streamlined global effort to slow the outbreak, which has thus far infected more than 2,400 people.

They recommended that neighbouring countries should not close any borders or place restriction on trade. The virus spread this week to Goma, a city of two million people.

"It is important that the world follows these recommendations". But they did not spread the disease further in Uganda, and the rest all died in Congo.

He said that while he "accepts" WHO's decision, he hoped it was not "the result of pressure from different groups. who want to use the statement as an opportunity to raise funds for humanitarian actors".

Congo health ministry says outbreak has likely killed 33 people.

While the risk of regional spread remains high, the risk outside the region remains low, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after the announcement in Geneva.

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The declaration was welcomed by health experts concerned about a repeat of the 2014 Ebola epidemic, which saw the WHO dragging its feet declaring an global emergency until the virus was rampaging through three countries - partially out of fear of angering and doing economic damage to the countries involved. Future emergency declarations might be perceived as punishment and "might result in other countries not reporting outbreaks in the future, which puts us all at greater risk".

Health workers wearing yellow high-visibility jackets took the temperature of people crossing the border, in both directions. Some infected people have deliberately evaded health authorities.

This week a preacher with Ebola was identified after arriving by bus in Goma, a city of more than 2 million people.

The DRC Ministry of Health, WHO, other United Nations organisations, nongovernmental organisations and many partners have been responding to the outbreak since August 2018.

There was no immediate reaction to WHO's emergency declaration from Congo's health ministry, which had lobbied against it.

Congo's minister of health resisted the characterisation of the outbreak as a health emergency.

There also needs to be a certain rolling number of cases being confirmed at the time of the triggering (a growth factor), while the disease also needs to have spread internationally and at the same time a growth factor in terms of the rate of new cases being reported in the new country as well.