Also, experts call for the WHO to reconvene its Ebola emergency committee and consider declaring a public health emergency of international concern.
The number of confirmed cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak has jumped by 19 since Friday, most of them in Katwa, where responders face more community resistance. Over the course of the outbreak, responders have been grappling with evolving challenges in different areas. In today’s update, the health ministry described a security incident at a health checkpoint in Komanda that injured two workers.
Also, a US health worker who was possibly exposed was released from monitoring.
WHO Ebola Update & Risk Assessment For The DRC
Area of the 2018/9 Ebola virus disease hotzone. This is a brief Ebola virus disease (EVD) update of the latest number of people infected with, vaccinated against disease due to and killed as a result
With 10 new Ebola infections reported on New Year’s Day and today, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak passed the 600-case mark, as a fresh round of violence—this time in Komanda—injured a member of a health ministry vaccination team.
Oxfam has been forced to suspend its work in the Ebola ravaged areas of Beni and Butembo, due to violent protests following the announcement that people in these areas won’t be able to cast their votes for a new president, when the rest of country goes to the polls this Sunday. Raphael Mbuyi, Oxfam’s acting Country Director in the DRC said: “This is an extremely worrying situation, as every time the Ebola response has been suspended before we’ve seen a big spike in the number of new cases. This could mean Ebola spreading to even more people and potentially other countries in the region, putting many more lives at risk. “However, it’s not surprising that people who have had their votes taken away at the last minute are frustrated and going to the streets. These people deserve to have their say as well. “All parties need to find a way for people who have been devastated by Ebola and have lived through decades of violent conflict, to cast their vote. “Whatever the outcome, there needs to be an end to the years of misery people in this country have had to endure. Just because elections are being held does not mean there will be peace.”
Congolese health officials and their international partners expect the fight against Ebola to drag on well into next year. The biggest worry is that, unchecked, the epidemic could reach Goma, the regional capital. “If it hits Goma, we’re done for,” said Dr. Jean-Christophe Shako, the director of a local Ebola response team whose tasks require negotiating with the militia so that health workers can enter their territories and have their safety guaranteed. The city sits on a busy border with Rwanda and has an international airport that could disperse the disease globally.
In September the US State Department under White House orders pulled US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff and other personnel from the region citing local violence and security concerns. CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, has gone on record saying he disagrees with the decision. The CDC is currently sharing data and analysis with the WHO. “We can mobilize from other parts, from those institutions who don’t have very strict security provisions like that,” Tedros told reporters at WHO headquarters, the AP said. “We can cover it.”
Two health workers seriously wounded while carrying out safe burials of Ebola victims in north-eastern city of Butembo