W.H.O Says DRC Ebola Outbreak Not A ‘Global’ Emergency

File Photo: 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. / AFP

 

The World Health Organization (W.H.O) said Friday that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not qualify as an international threat, despite the spread of the virus to neighbouring Uganda carried by an infected family.

The closely-watched decision followed advice from WHO’s emergency committee, which only meets to review the world’s most severe outbreaks.

The head of the UN health agency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is in DRC reviewing the Ebola response, said he accepted the committee’s advice.

“Although the outbreak does not at this time pose a global health threat, I want to emphasise that for the affected families and communities, this outbreak is very much an emergency,” Tedros told reporters.

He also appealed for more funds to combat the ongoing Ebola flare-up, which has recorded more than 2,000 cases, including over 1,400 deaths, since it emerged in eastern DRC in August.

Friday’s emergency committee meeting was prompted by confirmation this week of Ebola deaths in a western Uganda region that borders DRC.

Rare Declaration

The W.H.O panel has used the label “public health emergency of international concern” only four times previously.

Those included the H1N1, or swine flu, pandemic of 2009, the spread of poliovirus in 2014, the Ebola epidemic that devastated parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016 and the surge of the Zika virus in 2016.

This is the third time the WHO panel has considered — but held off — making the emergency call for this DRC outbreak, which has been concentrated in the restive provinces of Ituri and North Kivu.

The head of the committee, Preben Aavitsland, told reporters in Geneva that current Ebola crisis was “an extraordinary event, with risk of international spread, (but) the ongoing response would not be enhanced” by an emergency declaration.

Uganda Cases Confirmed

The Uganda cases stem from a Congolese woman, married to a Ugandan, who travelled with her mother, three children and their nanny to DRC to care for her ill father, who later died of Ebola.

WHO said 12 members of the family who attended the burial in Congo were placed in isolation in the DRC, but six “escaped and crossed over to Uganda” on June 9.

The next day, a five-year-old boy was admitted to hospital in Bwera, a border town, vomiting blood before he died. Tests confirmed he had Ebola and the family was placed in an isolation ward.

His three-year-old brother was also confirmed to have Ebola, as was their grandmother, who died late Wednesday.

Speaking from western Uganda’s Kasese district, a senior Red Cross official told AFP that “the biggest challenge” was ensuring robust monitoring along the porous border with DRC.

“People are continuing to come into the country and not passing through the areas where screening is taking place because screening has been instituted along certain points of entry but not all the points,” said Josephine Okwera, the director of health and social services for the Ugandan Red Cross.

Restive Region

Health officials had initially hoped that they could contain the outbreak with help from a new vaccine, which has now been given to more than 130,000 people in DRC.

But chronic violence and militia activity in the affected eastern DRC provinces, as well as hostility to medical teams among some in the region have hampered the response.

WHO has also accused political leaders in Ituri and North Kivu of manipulating the Ebola issue to turn people against health workers.

Ebola spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.

The current outbreak is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014-2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.

Ebola Outbreak Spreads To DRC City Surrounded By Rebels

Medical workers are seen disinfecting and performing medical checks inside the unconfirmed Ebola patients ward run by The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) on August 12, 2018, in Beni. John WESSELS / AFP

 

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to a city surrounded by rebels, creating challenges responders were “dreading,” the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

One probable case and one suspected case have emerged in the city of Oicha in DRC’s North Kivu province, WHO’s emergency response chief, Peter Salama, told reporters.

While Oicha itself is not under rebel control, Salama said the city is entirely surrounded by territory held by a feared Ugandan insurgent group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

“For the first time we have a confirmed case…in an area with high insecurity,” Salama said.

“It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem at the same time we were dreading.”

Large numbers of civilians have been killed by unrest around Oicha, while aid workers, priests, and government employers are currently being held hostage there by insurgents, according to Salama.

The outbreak, the 10th to hit DRC since 1976, began on August 1 in the North Kivu town of Mangina.

The virus has killed 63 people so far — out of 103 confirmed or probable cases — but Salama warned health workers were expecting “at least one additional wave of cases.”

The Oicha cases have made containing the virus more difficult.

“We are going to have to operate in some very complex environments,” Salama said.

UN teams are only allowed to travel to Oicha with armed escorts.

If the number of patients, or contacts of patients, in the city surges, the logistical hurdles and costs will mount.

After its widely-criticised handling of the 2013-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic that killed 11,300 people, WHO pledged to revamp its response systems.

The UN agency was widely praised for quickly containing an outbreak in DRC’s northern Equateur province earlier this year, but said from the outset that restive North Kivu in the east of the country posed additional challenges.

“We are at quite a pivotal moment in this outbreak,” Salama said. “We are truly at the crossroads.

AFP

Timeline Of Ebola Virus Since First Known Outbreak

 

Following is a recap of past epidemics of Ebola as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) battles a new outbreak of the deadly tropical disease:

1976: First known outbreak 

Ebola was first identified in central Africa in 1976 and named after a river in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

It claimed 431 lives that year: 280 in the DRC (then known as Zaire) and 151 across the border in Sudan, in an area that is today part of South Sudan, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Three years later the virus reemerged in the same region of southern Sudan, killing 22.

 1995: DRC again 

In May 1995 Ebola struck again in the DRC, in the forested region of Kikwit in its southwest. It spread quickly and lethally, killing 250 people from 315 reported cases.

2000-2001: Uganda 

In September 2000 the Sudan strain of Ebola fever spread for the first time to Uganda, infecting 425 people in the northern and western regions, of whom 224 died.

2001-2003: Gabon, Congo 

Affected by the Zaire strain of Ebola on three occasions between 1994 and 1997 with nearly 100 people dying in total, Gabon saw a sudden rise in cases between October 2001 and May 2002.

The epidemic hit the province of Ogooue-Ivindo in the northeast, an area which had previously been infected. Fifty-three of 65 people reported having been infected eventually died.

The virus spread to neighbouring Republic of Congo where it killed 43 in 2001 and more than 150 over 2003.

 2013-2015: Biggest outbreak 

The most deadly epidemic broke out in West Africa in December 2013 and lasted more than two years, killing more than 11,300 of the 29,000 recorded cases.

Around 99 percent of the victims came from three neighbouring countries. In Guinea, where the epidemic started, more than 2,500 died, while in Sierra Leone more than 3,900 perished and Liberia lost 4,800 people.

This toll, which the World Health Organization (WHO) says is an underestimate, was seven times the total number of deaths in previous epidemics since the virus was identified.

DRC: Ninth outbreak 

The DRC is now facing its ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976.

The latest episode, publicly declared on May 8, has seen 44 reported cases so far with 23 deaths, according to UN figures. Its epicentre is in the Bikoro area in remote Equateur province.

On Thursday the WHO said a case had been recorded in Mbandaka, a city roughly 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Bikoro.

In 2007, the virus killed 187 people in the DRC, and 43 in 2012.

AFP

FG Denies Being Responsible For Monkeypox Outbreak

The Federal Government has denied the report that the outbreak of Monkey Pox in some parts of the country resulted from the alleged free medical care by the government in the affected areas.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement on Sunday, said Nigerians should disregard the report which, apparently, is being spread by some unscrupulous persons to fit into a sinister agenda.

Lai Mohammed said, ”The Federal Government has not conducted any free medical service or care in either Bayelsa or Rivers state, as alleged in the fake report being circulated. So that could not have been the cause of the outbreak of Monkey Pox in both states.

READ ALSO: Facts About Monkey Pox Disease

“Monkey Pox is a virus found only in monkeys and it is rare in human beings. It belongs to the same family as Chicken Pox and Smallpox.

”It is suspected that someone may have contacted it by eating monkey meat, thus triggering the current outbreak.”

Monkeypox epidemic was first recorded in Bayelsa with three other suspected cases in Rivers State and one other confirmed case in Akwa Ibom.

 

Zika No Longer Constitutes International Emergency- W.H.O

Zika, w.h.oThe World Health Organization (W.H.O), has declared that the Zika virus and related neurological complications, no longer constitute an international emergency.

However, the agency says it would continue to work on the outbreak through a “robust” programme, as the virus still represents “a significant and an enduring public health challenge”.

In February, W.H.O Director-General, Margaret Chan, had called it an “extraordinary event”, while declaring a public health emergency.

Carried by mosquitoes, the Zika virus can cause the rare birth defect, Microcephaly, (where babies are born with abnormally small heads and restricted brain development) and other neurological disorders in infants and adults.

It has spread to more than 60 countries and territories since the current outbreak was identified in 2015, in Brazil.

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff had said “as long as the mosquito keeps reproducing, each and every one of us is losing the battle against the mosquito”.

“We have to mobilize so we do not lose this battle.”

Health officials in affected countries had advised women to avoid pregnancy – in some cases, for up to two years.

Here are a few things you might need to know about the virus

  • Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (aegypti and Ae albopictus)
  • These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
  • Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
  • There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
  • In most people, symptoms of the virus are mild, including fever, headache, rash and possible pink eye. In fact, 80% of those infected never know they have the disease.

Lassa Fever: Eight More People Under Surveillance In Delta State

Lassa feverAbout eight people have been placed under surveillance in Delta State after being suspected of being in contact with a doctor killed by Lassa Fever.

They are members of staff of the hospital a medical practitioner died of the disease in Delta State.

The Delta State Commissioner for Health, Nicholas Azinge, gave this update, adding that authorities will be moving into the hospitals to carefully go through their records for more people that may have had close contact with the deceased.

He said it would help in tracing the source of the outbreak

This makes a total of 40 persons quarantined since the outbreak in the state.

On Monday, August 22, Dr. Azinge confirmed a fresh case of Lassa fever and the death of a medical doctor who resides and owns a hospital in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

N200 Million FG Donation To LASG Distinct From N1.9 billion Intervention Fund

Onyebuchi Chukwu on EbolaThe Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Thursday said the N200 million donated to Lagos State by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will not be withdrawn from the N1.9 billion Ebola Intervention Fund.

The Minister, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dan Nwomeh, said the “ The N200 million is a distinct and direct Federal Government support to Lagos State and does not preclude other assistance that may be rendered to the State through the Federal Ministry of Health”.

The Minister also listed corporate organizations that have made contributions to the Federal Government’s control measures against Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria

These are:
*Aliko Dangote Foundation donated N152 million to sponsor the Ebola Emergency Operation Centre in Lagos.

*The ANAP Foundation founded by Mr. Atedo Peterside informed the Minister of Health that the foundation would be supporting affected private hospitals to the tune of N100,000 (one hundred thousand naira) per bed space. He also disclosed to the Minister that the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos where the index case was managed would be the first beneficiary and that the hospital would receive N4 million since its bed capacity is forty.

*The Tony Elumelu Foundation has pledged a donation of N50 million to support the Federal Government’s containment efforts.

*Shell Petroleum Limited donated an ambulance to the Ebola Emergency Operation Centre in Lagos.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the sum of 200 million Naira to support the Lagos State government in tackling the Ebola Virus Disease that has killed at least 1,200 persons since its outbreak in the West African region early this year, while President Goodluck Jonathan declared the control and containment of the Ebola virus in Nigeria, a National Emergency and set up an intervention plan with N1.9 billion approved for the control of the disease.