The Ebola outbreak in Congo could be declared a global emergency

A senior Red Cross official said Friday that he was "more concerned than I have ever been" about a possible regional spread of the Ebola virus after a new outbreak of cases , while the World Health Organization had convened to decide whether to declare the outbreak in Congo international health emergency.

Emanuele Capobianco, head of health and care at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, cited statistics from the Congolese Ministry of Health showing 40 new cases over two days this week. He called this rate unprecedented in this epidemic.

The Ebola epidemic in Congo announced Aug. 1 has become the second-most deadly in history, behind that of West Africa's 2014-2016 that has killed more 11,300 people. The Congolese Ministry of Health announced on Thursday 1,206 confirmed and probable cases, including 764 deaths.

To be designated as a public health emergency of international concern, a situation must be "serious, unusual or unexpected", threaten to infect other countries and require "immediate international action".

This epidemic was not like the others. Capobianco cited the lack of confidence in Ebola treatment in the community, which had never faced an epidemic of the virus before, and the insecurity caused by rebel groups that undermined the efforts of the community. 39; aid.

The epidemic occurs near the borders of Uganda and Rwanda, with South Sudan not far away.

Trish Newport, a representative of Doctors Without Borders in Goma, a large crossroads town close to the outbreak, said a global emergency declaration would not necessarily help stop the epidemic.

"Bigger is not necessarily better," she said. Doctors Without Borders calls for patients to be treated in existing health centers rather than in Ebola-specific clinics: "It's very clear that people do not like Ebola centers and do not trust them, and they do not come to be treated. "

Newport said that 75% of new Ebola cases had no clear link with previous patients, which means that officials have lost track of the place of spread of the virus.

Previous global crises regarding the Ebola outbreak in 2014 in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the emergence of the Zika virus in the Americas and the international attempt to eradicate polio have been declared. The WHO has been criticized for failing to declare the international emergency Ebola outbreak 2014 until nearly 1,000 people have died and the disease has crossed the border.

Emergency declarations almost always attract global attention and donor funding. In recent weeks, WHO has pointed out that it has badly needed the $ 148 million needed to fight the Ebola virus over the next six months. He received only $ 74 million in mid-March.

Tariq Riebl, based in Butembo, one of the Ebola hot spots for the International Rescue Committee, said the main hurdle at the end of the epidemic is that officials simply do not know how many there are. a case of Ebola.

"We find people when it's too late," he said, noting that many cases were buried in secret and had never been reported to the authorities. "Given the average number of cases we are seeing now, it will not be over until at least six months or more."

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