“We are on an epidemiological precipice. We have a critical, time-limited window of opportunity to prevent the #DRC #Ebola outbreak from taking hold in areas that are much more difficult to access because of insecurity. There is not a minute to lose.” Peter Salama, deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response
Public health officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are scrambling to contain the Ebola outbreak, as neighboring countries of Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda bolster their readiness in case the hemorrhagic virus spreads past their border…
Concerns about conflict zones: One of the big concerns is that one of the affected areas is in a conflict region, which is dangerous for health care workers and is near the border of Uganda.
Peter Salama, a top World Health Organization official, told STAT News:
“That’s really the worst-case scenario: That we can’t get in quickly enough to an alert [of possible cases] or we just have a blind spot because of security. And then an outbreak really begins to take hold in those blind spots and becomes a multicountry regional outbreak.”..
Meanwhile, the DRC is continuing its vaccination, treatment and education program. The spokesperson tells Axios:
“ “The environment is really conducive for Ebola to transmit freely. This is a very dangerous outbreak.
“What makes the outbreak in eastern DRC or northern Kivu more dangerous is there is a security challenge – there is active conflict in that area.”
Because of the ongoing fighting, some areas have been designated “red zones”.
As a result health officials and aid agencies find it difficult to access these areas, making it hard to find, isolate and treat potential cases.
Such areas were potential “hiding places” for the disease, which WHO figures suggest has a mortality rate of about 50 percent.” “ (B)
“The possibility that the virus could spread unchecked in one of these areas raises prospects of an outbreak that could make this year’s earlier brush with Ebola seem like a training exercise.
“That’s really the worst-case scenario: That we can’t get in quickly enough to an alert [of possible cases] or we just have a blind spot because of security. And then an outbreak really begins to take hold in those blind spots and becomes a multicountry regional outbreak,’’ Dr. Peter Salama, the World Health Organization’s deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, told STAT.
“That’s what keeps me up at night.”
The outbreak was declared in North Kivu on Aug. 1, a week after the previous epidemic was deemed contained. Genetic analysis of viruses from the two show that while they are caused by the same species of ebolaviruses, Ebola Zaire, they are not linked..
North Kivu is in northeastern Congo, near the border with Uganda and Rwanda. It’s the country’s most populous province, with 8 million people. It is also its most dangerous.
Under a scoring system used by the U.N. to determine the level of risk for its personnel in conflict zones, North Kivu is at level 4. Level 5 means the U.N. must evacuate; it is simply too perilous to be present.” (C)
“”That environment is really conducive for Ebola … to transmit freely.
“We call on the warring parties for cessation of hostilities, because the virus is dangerous to all. It doesn’t choose between this group or that group,” he said.” (D)
“The U.N. refugee agency is working closely with DRC authorities and other agencies on actions to contain Ebola on the national and regional level. But, its main focus is to monitor possible Ebola infections among refugees fleeing across the border, mainly to Uganda, from conflict ridden North Kivu and Ituri.
UNHCR spokesman, William Spindler says the number of newly arriving refugees into Uganda from these two Ebola affected provinces increased during July from 170 a day to 250 a day. He says the majority currently is crossing at the Kisoro border point.
“So UNHCR is working with WHO, UNICEF and other partners and with the Ministry of Health of Uganda to intensify screening for Ebola at all border entry points. And, additional health workers have been deployed in the border districts to improve response capacity,” he said.
Spindler notes the World Health Organization is not recommending any restriction on the movement of people. Therefore, he says UNHCR is urging countries neighboring DRC to allow refugees in need of protection to enter their territory and to include them into preparedness and response plans and activities.
The UNHCR says refugees are at the same risk of contracting and transmitting the Ebola virus disease as local farmers, merchants, business people and others moving through the area. Therefore, it urges governments and local communities not to adopt measures that single out refugees. Those measures may not be scientifically sound and will only serve to stigmatize and restrict refugees’ freedom of movement.” (E)
“The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that at least 1,500 people had been potentially exposed to the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu region, where insecurity prevents aid workers from reaching some areas.
But it expected more people to become infected and could not be sure that it had identified all chains by which the virus is spreading in the eastern part of the country beset by militia violence….
“We don’t know if we are having all transmission chains identified. We expect to see more cases as a result of earlier infections and these infections developing into illness,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a Geneva news briefing.
“We still don’t have a full epidemiological picture… The worst case scenario is that we have these security blindspots where the epidemic could take hold that we don’t know about,” he said.” (F)
“The ongoing deadly Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has particularly affected children, the United Nations Children’s Fund has said.
The outbreak in North Kivu Province was declared on August 1, and the UN children’s agency reported that more than 50 youngsters have lost their parents to Ebola.
UNICEF added that so far two children have died, while six others – who either are infected by the disease or suspected to be – are receiving treatment at two centres in the region.
Dr Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Representative in the DRC, said: “The children affected by the ongoing epidemic need special attention and care.
“Women are the primary caregivers for children, so if they are infected with the disease, there is a greater risk that children and families become vulnerable.”…
UNICEF and partners have trained nearly 90 psychosocial workers to assist and comfort children in Ebola treatment centres.
These professionals also support children who have been discharged, but who may be at risk of stigmatisation within their communities, and organised awareness-raising activities to facilitate their return. “ (G)
“The deadly Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo has now claimed 49 lives since the start of the month, the government has said, and the World Health Organization expects more cases.
The gradually increasing death toll, with a further 2,000 people feared to have come into contact with the virus, adds to the woes of a country already facing violence, displacement and political uncertainty.
First reported on August 1 in the North Kivu province, the current outbreak has killed 49 of the 90 cases reported, according to the latest health ministry bulletin on Saturday.” (H)
At least 10 health-care workers have been infected with the deadly Ebola virus as they battle an outbreak in an eastern province of Congo, officials said over the weekend, as concerns mount that the number of cases is growing faster than public health officials can respond…
The Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) expect more cases to emerge in the coming weeks. The Ebola virus disease carries an incubation period of up to 21 days, meaning it can take as long as three weeks for an infected person to show symptoms.
Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the WHO in Geneva, told The Hill that health officials had identified more than 1,500 people who had come into contact with a possible or confirmed Ebola patient…
“Health-care workers are at the front line and extremely vulnerable to infection. They work in poor conditions, often without personal protective equipment, and thus [are] often exposed before an outbreak is detected,” Rimoin said. “The reason this is so important is because health-care workers can easily propagate disease given that they have contact with many sick people and their own families.”” (I)
(A) WHO official: Congo’s Ebola on “precipice” to spread further, by Eileen Drage O’Reilly, https://www.axios.com/who-warns-congo-ebola-outbreak-on-precipice-995ceba1-5d2a-4823-a796-f36cf57faa85.html
(B) Ebola latest: Dangerous outbreak can ‘spread rapidly’, warns WHO boss. by CIARAN MCGRATH, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1004172/Ebola-latest-news-dangerous-ebola-outbreak-rapidly-war-zone-who-vaccination
(C) Ebola outbreak shaping up as most dangerous test of world’s ability to respond since global crisis, by Helen Branswell, https://www.statnews.com/2018/08/16/ebola-outbreak-challenges/
(D) WHO says DRC conflict hindering push to stem Ebola outbreak https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/drc-conflict-hindering-push-stem-ebola-outbreak-180814172937317.html
(E) WHO says DRC conflict hindering push to stem Ebola outbreak, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/drc-conflict-hindering-push-stem-ebola-outbreak-180814172937317.html
(F) WHO expects more Ebola cases in Congo, can’t reach no-go areas, by Stephanie Nebehay, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-ebola-who/who-expects-more-ebola-cases-in-congo-cant-reach-no-go-areas-idUSKBN1L20VB
(G) Child victims of Congo’s Ebola outbreak need ‘special care’ – UNICEF, https://punchng.com/child-victims-of-congos-ebola-outbreak-need-special-care-unicef/
(H) Ebola deaths in DR Congo rises to 49 with 2,000 feared ‘contacts’, https://punchng.com/ebola-deaths-in-dr-congo-rises-to-49-with-2000-feared-contacts/
(I) Ebola crisis worsens in Congo, health workers infected, by REID WILSON, http://thehill.com/policy/international/402553-ebola-crisis-worsens-in-congo-health-workers-infected