WHO declares an Ebola “Emergency” in DR Congo

Medical staff dressed in protective gear before entering an isolation area at an Ebola treatment centre in Goma. (Photo by Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is officially a public health emergency, according to the World Health Organization.

The declaration was made following a World Health Organization meeting of its emergency committee in the Swiss city of Geneva on Wednesday.

WHO shared a tweet saying ‘The Ebola outbreak in DRC constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, citing concerning geographical expansion of the virus: WHO Director General, Dr Tedros following the IHR Emergency Committee’s recommendation.’

According to WHO, a public health emergency of international concern is “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.”

Ebola is highly infectious and spread through bodily fluids. The current outbreak, largely confined to Congo apart from three deaths in Uganda last month, has killed 1,676 people – more than two thirds of those who contracted it – over the past year. This makes it the second deadliest after the calamitous outbreak in west Africa three years ago.

Despite the declaration, WHO said it does not recommend any restrictions on travel or trade, as such restrictions could hamper the fight against ebola.

WHO also shared a Tweet providing public health advice for affected countries.