The World Health Organization (WHO) said here on Friday that the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has not turned into a public health emergency of global concern, despite rising cases of infection for the past weeks.
It advises to redouble efforts to detect cases as early as possible, identify and follow up all contacts, ensure the highest level of coverage vaccination of all contacts and contacts of contacts. The current upsurge has occurred in remaining epicenters of the disease in conflict-ridden North Kivu province, notably in Butembo, Katwa, Vuhove and Mandima.
As of Saturday, the number of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo had risen to 1,240 cases - a troubling jump of more than 100 in one week - with 1,174 of them confirmed and 66 probable.
The experts say the Ebola outbreak does not pose a global threat since the deadly virus has not crossed any worldwide borders. "However, the committee wished to express their deep concern about the recent increase in transmission in specific areas, and therefore the potential risk of spread to neighboring countries", said the World Health Organization statement.
Tedros said the outbreak response needs another $104 million United States to help stop transmission of the virus.
Rather, by definition under global health regulations, the emergency declaration should be used to provide early warning of an imminent threat so countries can prepare, said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO's director of health emergencies programs.
The deadliest was a 2014 epidemic in West Africa which killed more than 10,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
When health workers are unable to get to communities because of unrest, "no people are being vaccinated, there is no treatment (and) people are staying at home and infecting other people".
"Choices must be given back to patients and their families on how to manage the disease-for example, by allowing people to seek healthcare in their local centers rather than in an Ebola Treatment Center (ETC)".
This is DRC's 10th outbreak of Ebola in 40 years and is the second worst to date.
The WHO expert committee recommends scaling up community dialogue and participation of traditional healers to lessen community mistrust and gain its acceptance. However, the Committee expressed its deep concern about the recent increase in transmission in some areas, and thus the potential risk of spread in neighboring countries.
While exit screening, including at airports, ports, and land crossings, is of great importance, entry screening is not considered beneficia, said the committee, appealing for more financial support, to strengthen efforts in both preparedness and response. It warns it will not be able to end the epidemic if it does not have the money to implement essential programs.