Ebola outbreak in DR Congo declared a global health emergency

Oly Ilunga- March 2019

Oly Ilunga- March 2019

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a global public health emergency, the United Nations health agency has announced, just days after the epidemic spread to a major urban hub for the first time.

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The WHO's emergency committee of worldwide experts were meeting on Wednesday for a fourth time to consider if the 11-month outbreak constituted a "public health emergency of global concern" (PHEIC), and will announce their decision at 1700 GMT.

"It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts".

The WHO chief said the DRC needs funding from the worldwide community, otherwise "we will be paying for this outbreak for a long time to come". World Health Organization officials warn that the declaration should not be used by countries to impose travel or trade restrictions, however, explaining that this would have a negative impact on how people respond to ongoing efforts to contain the virus, as well as on the lives and livelihoods of the people living in DR Congo. Two Congolese-Ugandans also died from the virus after crossing into Uganda in June.

The pastor who brought Ebola to Goma used several fake names to hide his identity on his way to the city, Congolese officials said.

The WHO's director-general said the identification of a confirmed case in Goma shows a "concerning geographic expansion of the virus". The virus is most often spread by close contact with bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms and with contaminated objects such as sheets.

An Ebola victim is buried at a cemetery in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 14, 2019.

Neighboring countries have feared for months over the virus' potential to spread. Ebola causes a high fever, hemorrhaging in some cases and even death.

The Ebola epidemic began in DRC almost a year ago and has since killed more than 1,600 people.

"If we can not contain Ebola at the epicenter, we will continue to see cases spread to metropolitan areas and across borders". The WHO has said the regional Ebola risk is "very high". The attacks have led to spikes in cases and hurt the painstaking work of tracing the thousands of people who have come into contact with those infected. A patient is not contagious until they start showing signs of the disease. As of Monday, the disease had infected 2,512 people and killed 1,676 of them. The current outbreak has killed 1,676 people - more than two-thirds of those who contracted it - since it emerged in August 2018.

EBOLA has appeared in Goma, the largest city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It's the second biggest Ebola outbreak ever, after the 2014-16 epidemic in west Africa.

"This isn't like past Ebola outbreaks, which occurred in relatively stable climates".

According to World Health Organization, a Congolese fisher-woman traveled across the border to sell fish at Mpondwe market last Thursday when she had four vomiting incidents before returning to Congo and dying of Ebola.