Coronavirus And Other Deadly Epidemics

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 1, 2020 a health professional works at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward where patients infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus are being treated, at the Santa Casa hospital in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. (Photo by Douglas MAGNO / AFP)

 

The novel coronavirus pandemic, soon to pass the milestone of one million deaths, has a higher toll compared with other modern viruses although its ravages to date are far less than the Spanish flu a century ago.

As the pandemic continues, the death toll from an AFP tally is only provisional, but it provides a reference point for comparing the new coronavirus with that of other viruses, past and present.

21st-century viruses

SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19 infection, has been the deadliest of the 21st century viruses.

In 2009, the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, caused a global pandemic and left an official death toll of 18,500.

This was later revised upwards by the medical journal The Lancet, to between 151,700 and 575,400 dead.

In 2002-2003, the SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that emerged from China was the first coronavirus to spark global fears, but killed just 774 people in the final toll.

Flu epidemics

The COVID-19 toll is often compared to that of deadly seasonal flu, though the latter rarely makes the headlines.

Globally, seasonal flu accounts for up to 650,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the 20th century, two major non-seasonal flu pandemics — Asian flu in 1957-1958 and Hong Kong flu in 1968-1970 — each killed around one million people, according to tolls carried out afterwards.

Both pandemics occurred in different circumstances to Covid-19, before globalisation intensified and accelerated economic exchange and travel — and with it the rapid spread of deadly viruses.

The greatest catastrophe of modern pandemics to date, the flu pandemic of 1918-1919 also known as Spanish flu, wiped out some 50 million people according to research published in the 2000s.

 Tropical viruses

The death toll from the new coronavirus is already far higher than that of the haemorrhagic fever Ebola, which was first identified in 1976 and in its latest 2018-2020 outbreak killed nearly 2,300 people.

In four decades, periodic Ebola outbreaks have killed some 15,000 people, all in Africa.

Ebola has a far higher fatality rate than Covid-19: around 50 percent of people who are infected die from it, and this has risen to 90 percent in some of the epidemics.

But Ebola is less contagious than other viral diseases, namely because it is not airborne but transmitted through direct and close contact.

Dengue fever, which can also be deadly, has a lower toll. This flu-like illness spread by the bite of an infected mosquito has been on the rise for two decades but causes just a few thousand deaths per year.

Other viral epidemics

AIDS is by far the most deadly modern epidemic: almost 33 million people around the world have died of the disease which affects the immune system.

First detected in 1981, no effective vaccine has been found.

But retroviral drugs, when taken regularly, efficiently stop the illness in its tracks and heavily reduce the risk of contamination.

This treatment has helped bring down the death toll from its peak in 2004 of 1.7 million deaths to 690,000 in 2009, according to UNAIDS.

The hepatitis B and C viruses also have a high death toll, killing some 1.3 million people every year, most often in poor countries.

Main data source: World Health Organization (WHO).

 

 

 

-AFP

DR Congo Records 100 Cases Of Ebola In New Outbreak

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 09, 2019 Health workers are seen inside the ‘red zone’ of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Butembo. Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

One hundred cases of Ebola have been recorded in DR Congo’s northwest in less than three months, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday as it warned the response to the epidemic is underfunded.

The outbreak was reported in Equateur province on June 1, just as the country was preparing to declare an end to a separate Ebola epidemic in the east that claimed over 2,000 lives.

The latest outbreak — the vast central African country’s 11th since Ebola was identified in 1976 — has since spread to 11 of the province’s 17 health zones, and 43 people have died, according to WHO.

The number of cases has doubled over the past five weeks, it said.

“With 100 Ebola cases in less than 100 days, the outbreak in Equateur Province is evolving in a concerning way,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.

Affected communities are spread across 300 kilometres (185 miles) in remote and densely forested areas, presenting logistical challenges, Moeti said.

“Without extra support the teams on the ground will find it harder to get ahead of the virus,” Moeti said.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced concern about delays between the onset of symptoms and an alert for a suspected case of Ebola, which he said was five days.

“This is concerning, because the longer a patient goes without treatment, the lower their chances of survival, and the longer the virus can spread unseen in communities,” he said at a press conference in Geneva.

“The situation has been further complicated by a strike by health workers, which is affecting activities including vaccination and safe burials,” he said.

In early August, Ebola health workers went on strike to demand payment of their salaries.

“DRC has the best-trained workforce in the world for Ebola. This situation needs to be resolved as quickly as possible,” he said.

‘Ignore at our peril’

According to WHO, DR Congo’s health ministry has presented a plan to donors and partners requiring $40 million (34 million euros) in the fight against Ebola, and has committed $4 million.

WHO said it has already mobilised a total of $2.3 million to combat the epidemic.

“COVID-19 is not the only emergency needing robust support. As we know from our recent history we ignore Ebola at our peril,” Moeti warned.

 

On June 25, DR Congo officially declared an end to an Ebola epidemic that broke out in the east nearly two years earlier, which Health Minister Eteni Longondo described as “the longest, most complex and deadliest” in the country’s history.

The two epidemics have no common viral strain, according to WHO.

The virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

In May 2018, another Ebola epidemic in Equateur province was contained in less than three months, with 54 cases and 33 deaths recorded.

DR Congo has also faced a major measles outbreak and recurring flare-ups of cholera and malaria.

The country has recorded 9,802 cases of coronavirus and 248 deaths since the first cases were reported on March 10, according to the latest official figures.

Canada Okays Ebola Drug For Use Against COVID-19

This file photo taken on April 8, 2020 shows one vial of the drug Remdesivir during a press conference about the start of a study with the Ebola drug Remdesivir in particularly severely ill patients at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, northern Germany, amidst the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Ulrich Perrey / POOL / AFP
This file photo taken on April 8, 2020 shows one vial of the drug Remdesivir during a press conference about the start of a study with the Ebola drug Remdesivir in particularly severely ill patients at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, northern Germany, amidst the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Ulrich Perrey / POOL / AFP

 

Canada on Tuesday gave the green light for people with severe symptoms of COVID-19 to be treated with the anti-viral drug remdesivir.

“Remdesivir is the first drug that Health Canada has authorized for the treatment of COVID-19,” said the health ministry.

At least two major US studies have shown that remdesivir can reduce the duration of hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.

Washington authorized the emergency use of the medicine — which was originally intended as a treatment for Ebola — on May 1, followed by several Asian nations including Japan and South Korea.

Canada said Tuesday it can be used on COVID-19 patients who have pneumonia and need extra oxygen to help them breathe.

The doses used in Canada will be made by a unit of Gilead Sciences, the US pharmaceutical company that developed the drug.

In early July, the European Commission also authorized use of remdesivir to treat the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, Canada was reporting 114,800 cases of the virus and more than 8,900 fatalities.

 

AFP

Ebola Cases Rise In New DR Congo Outbreak

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 09, 2019 Health workers are seen inside the ‘red zone’ of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Butembo.  (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

 

 

The Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo’s northwest is growing, according to health officials, sounding the alarm weeks after the country officially declared an end to a separate Ebola epidemic which claimed over 2,000 lives.

There have been 54 confirmed cases since June 1 in Mbandaka, a transport hub in Equateur province, including 22 deaths, according to figures released by the country’s health ministry on Friday.

There were four additional suspected cases.

The outbreak is DR Congo’s 11th since Ebola was identified in 1976.

On June 25, the vast central African country officially declared an end to an Ebola epidemic that broke out in the east two years ago, which Health Minister Eteni Longondo said was “the longest, most complex and deadliest” in the country’s history.

The two epidemics have no common viral strain, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO called the latest figures “of great concern”, saying that it had identified 56 cases by Thursday.

“It is now surpassing the previous outbreak in this area which was closed off and controlled at a total of 54 cases,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, referring to a 2018 Ebola outbreak in Equateur in which 33 people died.

– Remote villages –

The epidemic is spreading from Mbandaka’s urban centre to surrounding remote villages in forests along the Congo River, some of which can only be accessed by canoe or all-terrain vehicles.

“There are infections in several villages,” a local official, Moraliste Nembetwa, told AFP.

The virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

Serge Ngalebato, a doctor at the Bikoro hospital, said the epidemic affects “an area with fragile health”.

“In 2018, we had the Ebola epidemic. In 2020, the measles epidemic. As I speak, we have five cases of polio,” he said.

The country is facing a measles outbreak which has killed more than 6,000 people since early last year, as well as recurring flare-ups of cholera and malaria.

DR Congo is also struggling with the new coronavirus, with 8,249 cases including 193 fatalities.

WHO officials worry that because of these competing health crises, there could be a lack of funding for the Ebola epidemic.

“We have less than two million dollars in our account,” said WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib about funding for the current Ebola outbreak.

– ‘Put lives at risk’ –

DR Congo’s partners and donors may be cautious over worries that an injection of money could create fertile ground for conflicts of interest, a source close to the United Nations told AFP.

An investigation by The New Humanitarian last month found that payments to security forces and job kickback schemes “may have jeopardised humanitarian operations and put lives at risk”.

The influx of money to combat the spread of the virus in the east “has raised people’s expectations”, the source said.

Ebola experts said the experience of the eastern outbreak will be vital for informing further action.

Officials must “listen and involve communities in time, in dialogue and planning the response… otherwise we risk being counter-productive,” said Abdou Dieng, head of the United Nations Emergency Ebola Response.

Health authorities have launched a vaccination campaign, as was done in the east where two experimental vaccines were widely deployed and more than 320,000 people received a jab.

“More than 8,000 people have been vaccinated,” said Alhassane Toure, a vaccination coordinator.

“All the affected health zones have been covered by the vaccination.”

 

 

-AFP

DR Congo Declares End To Ebola Epidemic In East

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 09, 2019 Health workers are seen inside the ‘red zone’ of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Butembo. – Democratic Republic of Congo’s government on June 25, 2020 officially declared an end to an epidemic of Ebola that broke out in the east of the troubled country in August 2018 and went on to claim 2,277 lives. JOHN WESSELS / AFP.

 

DR Congo on Thursday officially declared an end to an Ebola epidemic that broke out in the east of the troubled country two years ago and went on to claim over 2,000 lives.

The outbreak was “the longest, most complex and deadliest” in the 60-year history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Health Minister Eteni Longondo said.

It has only been surpassed by the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa that killed 11,300 people.

On June 1, as the epidemic in the east waned, a new outbreak — the DRC’s 11th since Ebola was identified in 1976 — was announced in the country’s northwest.

For an outbreak to be officially over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days, which is double the incubation period of the deadly haemorrhagic microbe.

The eastern outbreak was just three days from reaching the finishing line in April when a new case was reported. Further cases meant that the clock was restarted on May 14.

READ ALSO: UN Urges ‘Moratorium’ On Facial Recognition Tech Use In Protests

The World Health Organization (WHO) reacted with joy to Thursday’s announcement from the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa.

“#Ebola outbreak in #DRC is OVER! WHO congratulates all those involved in this tough and often dangerous work to end the almost 2-year long outbreak,” it said on Twitter.

The DRC is also struggling with the new coronavirus, with 6,411 cases including 142 fatalities, and measles, which has killed more than 6,000 people since early 2019 .

– ‘Chronic insecurity’ –

The epidemic in the east broke out in August 2018 and killed a total of 2,227 people.

It was declared by the WHO in July 2019 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — a move that steps up international support — given the epicentre’s close proximity to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

The worst-hit area was North Kivu, a province battered by militia killings and ethnic violence.

“Chronic insecurity” helped make the epidemic “highly complex,” Longondo said.

Eleven workers and patients were killed, including a Cameroonian doctor, the UN said.

Two experimental vaccines were brought in to help roll back the disease.

More than 320,000 people received the jab, and the success means that “people are demanding to have the vaccine. It makes the campaign easier,” said Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe, in charge of the anti-Ebola fight.

The Ebola virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

It has a natural reservoir in nature, which is believed to be a species of bat.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

The northwest’s outbreak, about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away from the one in the east, is focused on Mbandaka, a transport hub on the Congo River in the province of Equateur.

It has claimed 13 lives out of 24 cases, according to the WHO.

Equateur was previously hit by Ebola between May and July 2018. Thirty-three people died.

– Lessons from outbreak –

Ebola experts said the experience of the eastern outbreak would be vital for informing further action against Ebola.

One problem was an influx of wealth among health workers and their escorts in the armed forces — guards were given per-diem expenses of $300-400 per month in a country where per-income capita is around $500 a year.

The river of money created envy that militia groups readily exploited, they said.

“Questionable practices in the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including payments to security forces, renting vehicles at inflated prices, and job kickback schemes, may have jeopardised humanitarian operations and put lives at risk,” a specialised news site, The New Humanitarian, said in an investigation published on June 18.

An AFP reporter found that a lucrative business had developed in job appointments, with middle men creaming off commission, and some women said they had been pressed to provide sexual services in exchange for work.

AFP

DR Congo Reports Fresh Ebola Outbreak

Activists walk along the street during a COVID-19 coronavirus awareness campaign in Kinshasa on May 29, 2020. SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP
Activists walk along the street during a COVID-19 coronavirus awareness campaign in Kinshasa on May 29, 2020. SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP

 

DR Congo reported a fresh Ebola outbreak in its northwest on Monday, the latest health emergency for a country already fighting an epidemic of the deadly fever in the east as well as a surging number of coronavirus infections.

The 11th Ebola outbreak in the vast central African country’s history comes just weeks before it had hoped to declare the end of the 10th in the east.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo said that “four people have already died” from Ebola in a district of the northwestern city of Mbandaka.

“The National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) has confirmed to me that samples from Mbandaka tested positive for Ebola,” Longondo told a press conference on Monday.

“We will send them the vaccine and medicine very quickly,” he said, adding that he planned to visit the site of the outbreak at the end of the week.

The capital of Equateur province, Mbandaka is a transport hub on the Congo River with a population of more than a million.

Equateur province was previously hit by an Ebola outbreak between May and July 2018, in which 33 people died and 21 recovered from the disease.

“This is a province that has already experienced the disease. They know how to respond. They started the response at the local level yesterday (Sunday),” Longondo said.

The eastern epidemic

The Ebola epidemic in the country’s east has killed 2,280 people since August 2018, and officials had hoped to be able to proclaim it over on June 25.

For it to be officially over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period.

The eastern epidemic was just three days away from being declared over on April 10 when a new case was reported.

Seven new cases were then recorded, including four deaths, two recoveries and one patient who fled, and the clock was restarted on May 14.

The World Health Organization also extended its Public Health Emergency of International Concern designation for the epidemic, which has mainly affected the North Kivu province.

Two experimental vaccines have been widely deployed to fight the outbreak, with more than 300,000 people vaccinated across the country.

However efforts to contain Ebola in the east have been hindered by attacks on health workers and conflicts in the country’s volatile region, long riven by militia killings and ethnic violence.

The eastern Ebola outbreak is the second-worst in history, after an epidemic in 2014 killed about 11,000 people — mostly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Coronavirus, measles

The newest Ebola outbreak is the 11th in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever was identified in 1976 in Equateur province in the country then known as Zaire.

The virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

The country is also fighting its own surging coronavirus outbreak, recording 3,195 infections — 2,896 in the capital Kinshasa — and 72 deaths, according to official figures released Monday.

“We are in an ascending period of the curve,” Longondo said, adding that it was still too “risky” to lift measures imposed on March 20 to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Under the measures, travel is banned between Kinshasa and the rest of the country.

No coronavirus cases have been reported in Equateur province. Mbandaka is 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Kinshasa, but the two cities are connected by the Congo river, with a trip down it taking about a week.

DR Congo’s coronavirus frontman, virologist Jean-Jacques Muyembe, first identified Ebola in 1976 along with Belgian Peter Piot.

“I have devoted all my life and all my career to fighting Ebola,” Muyembe has said.

The country is also facing a measles outbreak which has killed more than 6,000 people since early last year, as well as recurring flare-ups of cholera and malaria.

WHO Emergency Committee Meets On Ebola After New DRC Case

WHO Urges Unity After Trump Attack
A TV grab taken from a video released by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attending a virtual news briefing on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) from the WHO headquarters in Geneva on April 6, 2020. AFP

 

The WHO said its emergency committee would meet Tuesday to discuss whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo still constitutes an international health emergency, after fresh cases were detected.

The meeting comes a day after DR Congo had been expected to announce that the outbreak in the east of the country that began in August 2018 was over.

The epidemic has killed 2,276 people to date. For it to be declared over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period.

But as the World Health Organization’s emergency committee met last Friday to determine whether its declaration of a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, could be lifted, a new case was reported.

“We now have three cases, two people who have died, one person who is alive,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in a virtual briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

She said that all of the contacts of those cases had been traced and vaccinated and were being followed closely.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: IMF Approves Debt Relief For 25 Poor Countries

DR Congo health authorities announced Friday that a 26-year-old man was listed as having died from the disease, and a young girl who was being treated in the same health centre passed away on Sunday.

Both died in the city of Beni, epicentre of the outbreak.

Due to the shifting situation, the WHO decided to reconvene its emergency committee to again evaluate whether or not the outbreak still constitutes an international health emergency, Harris said.

It was scheduled to announce its decision later Tuesday.

DR Congo has meanwhile started a new 42-day countdown to declare an end to its 10th epidemic of the deadly haemorrhagic fever disease.

AFP

DR Congo Hopes To Declare End To Ebola Outbreak In April

 

DR Congo health officials said Monday they were “keeping fingers crossed” to declare the end of the devastating 19-month epidemic next month.

While the world’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus, the last patient under treatment for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday.

If no more cases are diagnosed, the epidemic will officially end on April 12, or 42 days from the date of the last confirmed patient’s second negative test.

“Today, March 9 is the 21st day without any new confirmed case,” said Jean-Jacques Muyembe, who is in charge of the Ebola fight.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that until then, there are no incidents,” he told a news conference.

“The greatest challenge for us today is to follow up on survivors because some continue to secrete the virus in their seminal fluids,” he said, adding that they were being treated to avoid infecting their partners.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso Attacks Kill 43

DR Congo’s most recent Ebola outbreak was first identified in August 2018, and WHO declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” last July.

It has killed 2,264 people in DR Congo in the vast central African country’s 10th Ebola epidemic since 1976.

It is the second-most deadly Ebola epidemic in history after an outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

Since that time, the health authorities have gained a more powerful weapon against the disease: vaccination. Nearly 320,00 people have been vaccinated so far in DR Congo.

AFP

Nigeria’s Healthcare System ‘Not Perfect’, Needs Boost – Mamora

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora.

 

 

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, says the healthcare system in the country is not perfect.

Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise, he stated that the present situation was not one Nigeria cannot handle.

“We do have a health system that can cope but that is not to say it is perfect. We still need to do a lot of health system strengthening,” the minister said on Saturday.

READ ALSO: 11 More People Die As Lassa Fever Death Toll Hits 132

Mamora believes a bulk of what should be done is at the grassroots where the people can be better enlightened and educated on how to take care of themselves.

He stated, “The healthcare delivery is a pyramid and at the base of that pyramid is the primary health because that is where you can easily give information to the people.

“The bulk of our people still live in the rural area and that’s one of the areas where the primary health is supposed to serve.”

 

The minister spoke about the efforts of the Federal Government towards tackling the spread of coronavirus and Lassa fever.

He stressed the need to pay more attention to the outbreak of Lassa which has killed scores of people in the country.

 

132 Killed

Mamora said, “Ebola, coronavirus (COVID-19); these are imported [disease], not something with us. But Lassa is with us, and it’s mainly an environmental issue which we need to deal with.

“The hype, the hysteria, the fear attached to COVID-19 essentially has to do with the ease of transmission. That why it is going viral all over the world … and it is no respecter of anyone.”

On Wednesday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its latest situation report said 11 more people have died from the outbreak of Lassa fever since the beginning of the year.

The deaths were recorded in the ninth week which covered between 24 February and March 1, bringing the number of people killed to 132 in 2020.

The NCDC noted that a total of 85 new cases were confirmed in the week from Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Taraba, and Kebbi States.

It said in total, 27 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 118 Local Government Areas since the beginning of the year.

WHO Seeks $20m To Fight Ebola In DR Congo

World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Ibrahima-Soce Fall attends a press conference on the WHO Ebola operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 6, 2020 in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Ibrahima-Soce Fall attends a press conference on the WHO Ebola operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 6, 2020 in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The World Health Organization said Friday it needs $20 million to fight Ebola in DR Congo, even as the end of the devastating 19-month epidemic finally seemed within grasp. 

While the world’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus, the last patient being treated for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday.

If no more cases are diagnosed, the epidemic will officially end within 42 days from the date of the last confirmed patient’s second negative test.

“The end of the outbreak will be declared on April 12” barring further cases, WHO assistant director-general for emergency response Ibrahima Soce Fall told the media in Geneva on Friday.

But he issued a note of warning, saying “it is critical to maintain surveillance and rapid response capacity” in order to quickly diagnose any new cases.

“We have over 1,169 survivors. So we have an important programme to continue to provide care to survivors, but also to make sure that we don’t have any flare-ups,” he added.

“We know that the focus is more now on COVID-19, but… we still need an additional $20 million for WHO to maintain the team on the ground because Ebola is also a matter of global health security.”

DR Congo’s most recent Ebola outbreak was first identified in August 2018 and WHO declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” last July.

It has killed 2,264 people in DR Congo, the vast central African country’s tenth Ebola epidemic since 1976.

It is the second-most deadly Ebola epidemic in history, after an outbreak killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

Since that time, the health authorities have gained a more powerful weapon against the disease: vaccination. Nearly 320,00 people have been vaccinated so far in DR Congo.

 

AFP

WHO To Decide On Emergency Status Of Ebola In DR Congo

 

UN health agency experts meet on Wednesday to decide whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo should still be considered a global health emergency, following a sharp decline in reported cases.

The World Health Organization last July declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” — a designation that gives the WHO greater powers to restrict travel and boost funding.

The outbreak was first identified in August 2018 and has since killed more than 2,300 people in eastern DR Congo — an area where several militia groups are operating.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday said he was “encouraged” by an improvement in the situation, with only three cases reported in the past week.

But he added: “It’s not over. Any single case could reignite the epidemic.”

For the epidemic to be declared over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period.

“Although the world is now focused on coronavirus, we cannot and must not forget Ebola,” Tedros said, adding that he would travel to DR Congo on Thursday to meet President Felix Tshisekedi.

The decision is ultimately up to the WHO’s Emergency Committee — a group of international experts that meets every three months once an emergency has been declared.

The designation last year came a few days after a patient was diagnosed with the virus in the provincial capital Goma — the first case in a major urban hub.

More than a month before that, the WHO reported that the virus had spread to Uganda for the first time.

The Ebola virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

This is the second worst outbreak of the disease since 2014 when it killed about 11,000 people — mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Efforts to contain the current outbreak have been hindered by attacks on health workers and conflicts in the east.

The WHO said in November it had moved 49 staff out of the Beni region in eastern DR Congo because of the insecurity.

The Beni region, straddling the North Kivu and Ituri provinces, has been repeatedly attacked by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, which civic activists say has massacred more than 300 people since October.

AFP

DRC Records 20 Ebola Cases In Three Days

 

Twenty cases of Ebola have been recorded in three days in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where deadly violence is hampering efforts to end the 16-month-old epidemic, the authorities said on Thursday.

Ten cases were notified on Wednesday alone in Mabalako in North Kivu province, after six on Tuesday, according to the Multisectoral Committee for Epidemic Response (CMRE).

Three out of the six are practitioners of traditional medicine, it said.

More than 2,200 people have died since the epidemic was declared on August 1, 2018.

As of November 22, the rate of new cases had fallen to 10 per week.

CMRE said “security reasons” — attacks on Ebola health workers and sites by armed groups and angry youths — had “paralysed” work in the key zones of Beni, Biakato and Mangina.

The attacks led to a pullout of locally-employed Ebola workers in Biakato by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

AFP