JOHANNESBURG (AP) – The World Health Organization has decided that the latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Congo was not yet a global health emergency, causing frustration from some health experts.
With several rebel groups active in the region, cautious communities sometimes resisting health workers and a busy border nearby, the risk of regional spread is deemed "very high," said the WHO. The region affected by the epidemic is bordering Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
An overview of the outbreak with 1,220 confirmed and probable cases, including 772 deaths, since its declaration on August 1. He became the second deadliest in history, behind that of West Africa 2014-2016 that killed more than 11,300 people. .
WHAT IS EBOLA?
Ebola is a virus that can spread quickly and can be fatal in 90% of cases. Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and sometimes internal and external bleeding are some of the symptoms. According to WHO, symptoms can begin to manifest between two and 21 days after infection.
The virus is most often transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids of people with symptoms and with objects such as contaminated leaves. Health care workers often risk getting infected and burial practices that require close contact with Ebola victims can spread the disease.
Dozens of people affected by this outbreak have received one of many experimental treatments for Ebola, but their effect has not yet been fully studied. Although there is no approved treatment for Ebola, receiving early care, such as rehydration and other symptoms, helps to improve the chances of survival.
A new experimental vaccine against the Ebola virus is shown to be effective. The Congolese Ministry of Health said Friday that more than 98,000 people had been vaccinated.
WHY IS THIS OUTBREAK UNIQUE?
Health workers have called this first Ebola outbreak to occur in what is essentially a war zone. Several rebel groups are active in north-eastern Congo, killing hundreds of people in recent years. The attacks have resulted in a traumatized population that may be suspicious of strangers.
Some residents are on the verge that health workers are accompanied by armed guards from the UN peacekeeping mission or Congo's security forces. Many blame the government for not protecting them from attack.
This is the first time that an Ebola epidemic has erupted in this part of the Congo and health workers are battling misinformation by explaining the importance of safe and secure burials. other preventive measures.
One in four people surveyed in eastern Congo a month after the start of the epidemic thought the Ebola virus was not real, according to a study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases the month latest.
Some residents rejected Ebola vaccines and fled or attacked health teams. Doctors Without Borders was forced to close two of its Ebola clinics earlier this year after attacks on clinics.
This has hampered efforts at confinement, especially at the laborious work of seeking the contacts of infected persons. Many new cases are still unrelated to known cases, sign of the challenges that remain in a dense and highly mobile population.
HOW LONG DOES THE DAMAGE LAST?
It's hard to say. Some health experts predicted several months ago that the epidemic would end within six months. As complications continue to appear, the delay is postponed.
"Given the average number of cases we are currently seeing, this will not be completed for at least six months or more," said Tariq Riebl of the International Rescue Committee on Friday.
The chairman of the WHO expert committee who unanimously decided that the epidemic is not yet a global emergency, Robert Steffen, said the experts were "rather optimistic" and that the epidemic could be contained in a "foreseeable time".
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