(WHO photo/S. Oka)

WHO Emergency Committee Holds Off Declaring Ebola Outbreak an International Threat

The Emergency Committee convened by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today that a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) should not be declared at this time over the ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Committee remains deeply concerned by the outbreak and emphasized that response activities need to be intensified and ongoing vigilance is critical. The Committee also noted the very complex security situation.

WHO was notified Aug. 1 by the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Ebola Virus Disease in North Kivu province. Cases were also subsequently found in Ituri Province. From May 4 to Oct. 15, 216 EVD cases were reported, of which 181 are confirmed and 35 are probable; 139 total deaths have occurred, of which 104 are confirmed and 35 are probable. The global case fatality rate stands at 64 percent overall, and at 57 percent among confirmed cases.

Nine neighboring countries have been advised that they are at high risk of spread and have been supported with equipment and personnel. Particular emphasis has been placed on Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan in terms of preparedness activities.

This outbreak is taking place in an active conflict zone amidst prolonged humanitarian crises. Approximately 8 major security incidents have occurred in the Beni area in the past 8 weeks. These factors have complicated contact tracing and other aspects of the response.

Community mistrust, stemming from a variety of reasons, including the security situation, and people who avoid follow-up or delay seeking care, remain significant problems that require deepening engagement by community, national and international partners.

New cases being identified without epidemiological links are of great concern and require further detailed epidemiological mapping. The assessment of the risk of spread is low at global level but it is very high at both national and regional levels.

Read more at WHO

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