South Sudan on alert as Ebola outbreak reported in Congo
12 May, 2018, 23:10 | Author: Norman Carr
The latest outbreak in Congo began in December, and at least 17 people have died of Ebola-like symptoms since then.
World Health Organization has recorded 32 suspected or confirmed cases in Bikoro, including 18 deaths, between April 4 and May 9. To allow small planes to land in the area, officials are exploring the possibility of clearing an airstrip in Bikoro.
But despite the fact that during the 2014 outbreak he slammed President Barack Obama for what he called a "TOTAL incompetent" response to the possibility of Ebola cases reaching the United States, Donald Trump this week announced cuts of $252 million in funding for a US response to a potential Ebola plague, calling the cut part of his move to stop "irresponsible Federal spending".
Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus in a Twitter post said the agreement was made in a phone call with Congo's health minister on Thursday.
Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama on Friday told a regular United Nations briefing in Geneva that he hoped the Democratic Republic of Congo would give the green light within days for the deployment of an experimental vaccine, but warned that the drug was complicated to use and was not a magic bullet.
Tedros said the organisation is working with its partners to send more staff, equipment, and supplies to the affected area.
"We will gather more samples, conduct contact tracing, engage the communities with messages on prevention and control, and put in place methods for improving data collection and sharing", said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa.
"We started well, and now we need to continue well, and we'll need the support of the entire worldwide community for this response", he said.
The Wellcome funding will be made available to the DRC government and the World Health Organization as they seek to contain the outbreak's spread.
DR Congo has suffered a number of Ebola outbreaks in recent years, but has largely managed to contain them. "A standby ambulance with a driver and relevant protective gear has been provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and is available twenty four-seven", Dr Mwebesa said in a press statement. Around 50 per cent of patients die, according to the WHO. They will also receive a leaflet with information about Ebola and contact numbers of the surveillance officers.
"This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most hard terrains on earth", Salama said. A new experimental vaccine has been shown to be highly effective against the virus, though quantities are now limited.
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