Congo's Ebola outbreak remains a global emergency, WHO says

The World Health Organization said despite positive signs in Congo, the country's Ebola epidemic continues to be a global health emergency.
Take progress on Ebola in Congo with caution, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, said Wednesday. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone/Associated Press)

The World Health Organization warned against taking "our foot off the accelerator" in responding to the Ebola outbreak in Congo while people focus on another outbreak, coronavirus.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he accepted the unanimous advice of the emergency committee that Congo's Ebola epidemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. It has killed more than 2,200 people

"The world needs to continue to fund the Ebola response," he said at a media briefing in Geneva. "Taking our foot off the accelerator now could be a fatal mistake."

Any case could reiginite the epidemic, he said, calling the security situation in Eastern Congo extremely fragile. 

Rebels have repeatedly attacked health workers struggling to contain the outbreak and people in communities who've never experienced the illness before remain wary of international aid workers.

Tedros said he hoped that by the time the Ebola expert group meets again — likely within three months — that they will be able to declare an end to the Ebola epidemic. He said he would be travelling to Congo later this week to meet with the country's president and senior government officials to discuss ways to strengthen the country's health-care system. 

"We take the progress on Ebola with caution, although it's a big success."  

The outbreak was declared in August 2018.

Before the outbreak could be declared over, Congo must be free of any new cases for 42 days. 


With files from Associated Press


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