Travel Alert: East African Countries issue deadly Ebola virus outbreak alert
16 May, 2018, 11:40 | Author: Donna Miller
Almost 20 people have died amid a new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 35 reported cases according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The remaining 12 cases are suspected.
It said 393 people who identified as contacts of Ebola patients were being followed up.
In an interview with The New Times on Monday, Dr. Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health said no signs of Ebola have so far been detected on Rwandan soil and that the ministry is working with different stakeholders to ensure citizens are protected from the outbreak. Information about the outbreak in Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata health zones in Equateur province was still limited, the WHO said in a statement.
"Even though it's a remote, rural area, which usually gives us a sense of reassurance in the sense of an outbreak, the problem is that we already have three separate locations that are reported cases that cover as much as 60 km (37 miles) or more", Salama told a news conference.
WHO officials noted that the outbreak is now rated a "high" public health risk at the national level, "moderate" at the regional level, and "low" risk at the worldwide level, with assessments ongoing.
Yesterday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, traveled to the DRC, and he tweeted about visiting a hospital in Bikoro and observing the outbreak response.
After meeting with DR Congo President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, the WHO chief praised "the government's very strong leadership" in responding to the health crisis and its "good coordination" with partners such as Unicef and Doctors without Borders (MSF).
"We are very concerned and planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario", Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, said at a United Nations briefing in Geneva Friday, according to Reuters.
The global health agency says 39 people have been reported or confirmed infected with the virus, which kills between 20 percent and 90 percent of victims, depending on the strain and the care they get. WHO is deploying 50 public health experts to assist with response activities and has released $1 million from the contingency fund for emergencies.
"We have been briefed about current situations and World Health Organization and partners are committed to continuing swift actions to beat Ebola, " Ghebreyesus said.
There is no current vaccine to prevent Ebola or licensed treatment for it, although a range of experimental drugs is in development.
The WHO has received approval to use an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a "ring vaccination" approach, around the epicenter of the oubreak in the Congo. The 393 close contacts now under surveillance for symptoms of Ebola would likely be the first recipients of the vaccine. Global agencies rushed staff and materials in to stop it.
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