WHO ‘encouraged’ by improved Ebola situation in DRC

Worker of center for disease control describing effects of ebola virus mutation.PHOTO/AP
FILE – In this Tuesday, July 16, 2019 file photo, health workers dressed in protective gear begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo DRC. The World Health Organization said Friday Nov. 22, 2019, there has been “a very dangerous and alarming development” in efforts to end the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo, warning that the eruption of violence may re-ignite the epidemic. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is encouraged by an improvement in the Ebola situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but also urged caution.

The organization’s Emergency Committee of experts is expected to meet in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss whether the Ebola outbreak is still a global health emergency.

The Ebola pandemic declared in August 2018 has left more than 2,300 people dead in the east of the DRC.

“Although the world is now focused on coronavirus, we cannot and must not forget Ebola. We’re very encouraged by the current trend. There have only been three cases in the past week and no cases in the past three days,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.

“It’s not over. Any single case could reignite the epidemic,” he continued.

Tedros said he will be traveling to DRC on Thursday and meet with President Felix Tshisekedi.

“We’re still in full response mode,” he said, pointing to the “very fragile” security situation in eastern parts of DR Congo, where several militia groups operate, and the need to strengthen the country’s health system.

WHO declared Ebola as a public health emergency of international concern after months of pressure, a rarely used designation that is applied only to the gravest outbreaks.

Efforts to contain the current outbreak have been set back by attacks on health workers and facilities and frequent conflicts in the east where several militia groups operate.

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