WHO emergency committee to meet on DR Congo’s Ebola outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) will on Wednesday convene an emergency committee to decide whether the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, the global health body said on Monday.

The committee of independent experts may make recommendations to manage the outbreak, which was declared on August 1, and has worsened in recent weeks, with a risk of the virus spreading from northeastern Congo into Uganda and Rwanda.

The Congolese authorities are struggling to contain the latest Ebola outbreak in North Kivu province due to insecurity and the resistance from communities.

The latest case of the resistance was reported in Beni on Wednesday when members of a community stole the body of a woman who had died of Ebola. They later brought it back fearing they’d get infected.

That mistrust has greatly hampered the response effort.

“We are busy trying to fight the deadly Ebola virus but we are now facing resistance from residents in Beni. Some people don’t want to be taken to treatment centres.” Oly Ilunga, Minister of Health said.

The DR Congo government has banned the sheltering of Ebola patients to help healthcare workers vaccinate people suspected of having the disease.

WHO has warned that the outbreak could turn into a wider crisis following the increase in the number of cases.