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Ebola outbreak of global emergency after spreading from Congo to Uganda, World Health Organization says – live updates



Geneva – The World Health Organization on Friday said the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo – which spilled into Uganda this week is an "extraordinary event" of deep concern but does not yet merit being declared a global emergency. The U.N. (19659002) This outbreak, the second-deadliest in history, has killed more than 1,400 people since it was declared in August. At a press briefing following the meeting, Dr. Preben Aavitsland, the chairman of the committee, announced that the outbreak was "a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo", but that the situation is still not a global one

For such a declaration, an outbreak must be a risk to other countries and require a coordinated response.

Ebola virus outbreak.

Aavitsland said the committee was "deeply disappointed" that WHO and the affected countries did not receive the funding needed to stop the outbreak and delivered a blunt message to donors: up. "

On Thursday, WHO's emergencies chief acknowledged the agency has been unable to track the origin of nearly half of the new Ebola cases in Congo, suggesting it does not know where the virus is spreading

Doctors fighting Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The WHO's expert committee has met twice before to consider the situation in Congo. In April, the agency said the outbreak was of "deep concern," but officials were "moderately optimistic" it could be contained within a "foreseeable time."

"Risk of international spread"

Alexandra Phelan, a global health an expert at Georgetown University, said the legal criteria for declaring Ebola a global emergency have long been met, even before the virus reached Uganda

"I think the declaration should be made tonight." "Given that we are still seeing the daily numbers of cases in the double digits and we do not have adequate supervision, this indicates the outbreak is a persistent regional risk."

Phelan said she was concerned WHO might be swayed by political considerations.

As the far deadlier 2014-16 Ebola outbreak raged in West Africa, WHO was heavily criticized for not declaring a global emergency until nearly 1,000 people had died and the virus had spread to at least three countries.

 UGANDA-DRCONGO-HEALTH-DISEASE-EBOLA
Health workers stand at a non-quoted crossing point in the Mirami village, near the Mpondwe border checkpoint between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, June 14, 2019.

Getty

                      

"It's legitimate for countries to raise these concerns, but the basis on which WHO and its emergency committee should be looking at is the risk to public health and the risk of international spreading," said Phelan.

The outbreak, occurring near the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, has been like no other.

CBS News correspondent Debora Patta visited the epicenter of the outbreak in Congo in late May, and said the country's quarter-century -old civil war, and the violence and mistrust it has unleashed, have clearly disrupted efforts to contain the disease.

Violence, mistrust disrupts efforts to combat Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Violence, mistrust disrupts efforts to combat Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo [19659009] Outreach programs were launched to educate people about Ebola, but Patta said mistrust runs deep in the community, and many people have not even considered Ebola as a big problem as security. Bill Clemmer, with the non-profit IMA World Health, has worked in DRC for over two decades and has been partnered with USAID to help with previous Ebola outbreaks.

"I have never been in a context where people throw rocks at our vaccination team, where they block roads, where they loot and pillage our health care facilities," he said.
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