The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola outbreak in a gold mining area of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as a public health emergency of international concern at a meeting on Friday.
The WHO’s Emergency Committee on Ebola reviewed the current situation, as of 13 October 2019, since declaring the outbreak an international emergency on 17 July 2019.
“In recent weeks, 15 new cases were reported in North Kivu and Ituri provinces during the week of 7–13 October, in comparison with 128 confirmed cases per week reported at the peak of the outbreak in April 2019,” the WHO statement read.
The virus has infected 3,227 people and killed 2,154 of them since the outbreak was declared in August 2018 and went on to became the world’s second worst outbreak, it said.
The epidemic is currently concentrated in the Mandima health zone in the Biakato Mine health area.
“But one thing we would like to underline, even if this Ebola ends it may come back, because there is instability in eastern DRC and political instability and lack of security. These are pre-conditions,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
On 21 October 2019, a high-level ministerial meeting will be held in Goma, DRC, to further strengthen alignment and coordination of cross-border surveillance across all nine high-risk neighbouring countries.
While the Committee commended the efforts made by the neighbouring countries to strengthen preparedness, it remained deeply concerned by the lack of sustained financial support for these activities.
The committee noticed with appreciation that the general compliance of all states with the WHO recommendations to keep borders open and air travel meant operations could continue and economies in the area were not harmed by border closures.
The Committee emphasized the importance of continued support by WHO and other national and international partners towards the effective implementation and monitoring of these recommendations.