Ebola Concentrated in Congo Mining Area, Still World Emergency

Insecurity and access issues in parts of Mandima, including the Biakato mines, hamper finding infected people, tracing their contacts, and ensuring safe burials.

Ebola is infecting and killing people in a gold mining area of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the "complex and dangerous" outbreak still constitutes an international emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The virus has infected 3,227 people and killed 2,154 of them since the outbreak was declared in August 2018. This epidemic has became the world's second worst outbreak, say WHO officials.

The WHO's Emergency Committee on Ebola reviewed the situation since declaring the outbreak an international emergency on July 17. In a statement on Friday, it said the epidemic is "currently concentrated in the Mandima health zone in the Biakato mine health area."

"This outbreak remains a complex and dangerous outbreak," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, adding that he had accepted the independent panel's recommendation to maintain the emergency status.

"But one thing 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," he said.

Fifteen new confirmed cases were reported in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the week to Oct. 13, the WHO said in its latest update. This compared with nearly 130 cases per week at the peak in April.

But insecurity and access issues in parts of Mandima, including the Biakato mines, hamper finding infected people and tracing their contacts, as well as ensuring safe burials, it said.

Thirty-one of the 50 Ebola cases reported in the last three weeks were from or linked to Biakato, WHO figures show.

"I do believe there will be further cases to be found in the Biakato mines area," said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.

"The area is that remote and the communities are that deep in the countryside, that it will be another week to two weeks before we can be sure that there is not undetected transmission in that zone," he added.

In Mambasa and most of Mandima, experts have a good handle on the virus' evolution, Ryan said.

"But in the areas of Lwemba and Biakato mine we still don't have a full picture as to where the virus may be.

"So we don't believe we are dealing with a catastrophic situation, the numbers are extremely low compared to before, but we don't fully understand the dynamics of transmission in the Biakoto mine area," he said.

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Uganda Conducts Preventive Ebola Vaccine Trial

Ugandan health authorities reported Tuesday that a trial of a preventive vaccine against Ebola, a contagious disease that causes deadly hemorrhages, was rolled out among health personnel in this African country.

One of the project's principal researchers, Pontiano Kalebu, said the vaccine will be applied to about 800 people over a two-year period in the district of Mbarara, in the southwest of the country, according to the Africa News Website.

Through the trial of the vaccine, manufactured by a Belgian company, we will try to assess 'its safety and ability to provoke an immune response with the aim of fighting the virus,' Kalebu specified.

The Health Ministry of Uganda, which shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, in addition to carrying out the immunological trial, is taking several measures to prevent an outbreak of Ebola, such as strengthening health controls and maintaining adequate personal hygiene.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola, which has a high mortality rate if not treated in time, is transmitted through direct contact with contaminated blood and body fluids.

Global response to Ebola underfunded: UN

Health officials are struggling to contain an Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak an international public health emergency.

There are fears that the lack of leadership on the ground will lead to a greater crisis.

In 2014, the crisis was seen as a potential threat to international peace and security, and the UN Security Council met to discuss the situation. No such meetings are planned this time.

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Ebola: WHO Chief Says No Need to Declare a Global Emergency

At least 33 people have been infected with the deadly Ebola virus in the past week.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called an emergency committee meeting to address the current surge in Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

RELATED: Those Killed by Ebola Outbreak in DR Congo Increase to 72

“The current spike in Ebola cases and deaths is extremely worrying,” a spokesperson for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) remarked, last week. 

At Wednesday's committee meeting, Ghebreyesus noted that there is no need for an international emergency to be declared but the cases in the DRC region are to be viewed as dangerous.

"I have accepted the Emergency Committee’s recommendation not to declare a public health emergency of international concern. But this does not mean WHO is not taking the #Ebola outbreak in #DRC seriously. We still have more than 250 people working in DRC to end this outbreak," the director general posted to Twitter.

About 130 people have died since July, which is the tenth outbreak to devastate the DRC over the last 40 years, more than doubling since September. Over 200 suspected cases of the virus, which causes a deadly hemorrhagic fever, have been reported in the latest outbreak, the country’s second this year.

@DrTedros I have accepted the Emergency Committee’s recommendation not to declare a public health emergency of international concern. But this does not mean WHO is not taking the outbreak in seriously. We still have more than 250 people working in DRC to end this outbreak.

“Conspiracy theories, fear and mistrust around the disease have caused people to resist help and hide symptoms,” Red Cross spokesman Euloge Ishimwe told Reuters. 

At least 33 people have been infected with the deadly Ebola virus in the past week, 24 of which have since passed away, according to the health ministry of the DRC.

Ebola spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of infected individuals. 

The DRC Ministry of Health said 73 patients had received new trial treatments. About half recovered, 20 remain hospitalized and the others died.

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Zika vaccine 'within months'

A Zika vaccine could be ready for human trials later this year, according to the man in charge of the US government's research programme.

New Ebola case emerges in Sierra Leone

A corpse has tested positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone, officials said Friday, the day after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak over in West Africa.

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Caution marks end of Ebola after 4,700 deaths

MONROVIA, (AP): On the day Mercy Kennedy lost her mother to Ebola, it was hard to imagine a time when Liberia would be free from one of the world's deadliest viruses. It had swept through the nine-year-old's neighbourhood, killing people house by house.

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